§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a Second time."
§ Mr. Maxton (Glasgow, Bridgeton)
On a point of Order Mr. Speaker? Are you in a position to let us know what you intend to do with reference to the Business to-day? Can you tell us your intentions with regard to the Amendments to the Bill which are on the Order Paper?
§ Mr. Gallacher (Fife, West)
Is there any reason why such a filleted Amendment should be called, in view of the fact that there is a better Amendment on the Order Paper?
§ Mr. Silverman (Nelson and Colne)
In view of what you have just said, Mr. Speaker, may I ask whether the effect of calling the Amendment in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton) and his friends will in any way limit the scope of the Debate on this Bill?
§ The Secretary of State for India and Burma (Mr. Amery)
The first main Clause of the Bill to which I shall invite the House to give a Second Reading to-day raises the whole issue of our policy in India. At the same time the Bill contains certain other Clauses which are added to it for the sake of convenience and which will, no doubt, be more conveniently discussed later in Committee. The House may possibly wish me, very briefly, just to indicate the purposes of these other Clauses. Clause 2 deals with emergency courts which Provincial Governments have been empowered to set up, in the event of invasion or imminent invasion, to deal with looting, sabotage or other fifth-column activities. The sen- 1387 tences of these emergency courts will be subject to review by a Judge of the High Court. In the case of death sentences petitions on grounds of mercy will, as hitherto, continue to go to the Viceroy. What the Clause does is to suspend the right exercised in the case of ordinary courts—and which will still continue to be exercised—to petition to the Privy Council for leave for special appeal against the sentence. These petitions are in practice, I may say, never granted and afforded in the past very undesirable pretexts for simply postponing execution. Obviously, that kind of pretext for postponement is most undesirable in the case of a purely emergency situation, and the Clause deals with that point.
Clause 3 covers an omission arising from the fact that the Central Legislature, under the Act of 1935, has not yet come into operation. Under that Act both the Central and Provincial Legislatures were empowered to declare that the holding of offices under the Crown did not necessarily invalidate a Member's seat. That is in effect in the case of the Provincial Legislatures. In the case of the Central Legislature, which has not come into effect, the provisions of an older Statute still apply debarring the holding of offices of profit. Under war conditions it has been found that this directly embarrasses the war effort by making it impossible for members who are, say, reserve officers to take up their commissions or Army recruiting officers to function, and the Clause disposes of that inability.
Clause 4 is purely a defining Clause, giving a more careful definition of the provisions which protect the peasants in Provinces like the Punjab Province, or the aboriginal tribes in a Province like the Central Province, from alienating their land to moneylenders, to prevent these provisions being nullified by fictitious transactions. Clause 5 arises from the fact that there is at this moment a Burma Government, functioning on the soil of India, engaged in the reorganisation of the Burma Army, and that there are also a certain number of cases pending before the Burma courts which it is desirable to have settled. The Clause provides for these duties of the Burma Government to be exercised on Indian soil and for these special cases already before the courts to be concluded before the Indian courts.
1388 I now turn to the main Clause of the Bill which raises directly the whole issue of the present political deadlock in India. The origin of its provisions and the necessity for their continuance are, indeed, only intelligible in the light of the fundamental difference between the Congress Party on the one hand, and the rest of India and His Majesty's Government, on the other, as to the method by which India's freedom is to be attained. It is, I repeat, a difference, a divergence, as to the method to be pursued and not as to the aim in view. Indian nationalism, the desire to see India's destiny directed by Indian hands free from all external control, is not confined to any one party in India. It is shared by all. To that aim we in this country have solemnly pledged ourselves before India and before the world. In the name of His Majesty's Government, I repeat that pledge to-day.
What is more, the aim is one which enlists our spontaneous and whole-hearted sympathy. It does so for the sufficient reason that its fulfilment represents the natural and rightful crown and consummation of our past achievement in India. We should be the last people in the world to belittle or apologise for that achievement. I say with confidence that never in human history has an external influence contributed so much to the welfare and happiness of so vast a volume of humanity. But we have never regarded our contribution to India as a claim to permanent domination. On the contrary, our highest claim in our own eyes and in those of history will be to have given India the sound foundation upon which she can build by herself and for herself a stable and prosperous future. The policy to which we are committed is not one of reluctant retreat but of willing advance; not one of enforced abdication but of freely proffered partnership in freedom. We are not quitting India under anyone's orders. It is we who wish India to go forward with our good will to build her future under her own leadership; to go forward—not to fly apart; to build—not to break up.
It is to that end that our policy has been consistently directed. Our conviction is that India can only be truly free, truly secure against external agression, truly prosperous, if she is at peace within her own borders. And she can only enjoy that 1389 peace under a Constitution which gives due regard to the profound differences of religion and culture, of history and tradition, of local interest and sentiment, which make up the complex life' of that vast country—I should rather say, that vast continent. You cannot dispose of the great Moslem community of 95,000,000, with its passionate sense of unity and distinctiveness in a spiritually alien world and with its memories of past domination, as a mere numerical minority. You cannot dispose of the Princes of India, rulers over nearly half the area of India and over nearly a quarter of its population, bound to the Crown by mutual loyalty based on treaties faithfully observed on both sides, as negligible excrescences on British India. You cannot ignore 50,000,000 of the Depressed Classes outside the pale of the Hindu caste system, not to speak of other lesser but still important elements. No simple arithmetical or unitary Constitution can ever reconcile the natural claims of these various elements to be free to express each its own character and defend its own peculiar ways and interests. Only a Constitution based on balance and compromise can harmonise those claims. Such a Constitution this House attempted to devise for India in the Act of 1925. We have since come to the conclusion that no Constitution imposed from without can meet the case. It is for those who have to live under a Constitution to find the compromises and concessions which will enable them to work it. It is those who have framed a Constitution for themselves who will bring to it the good will without which it can never succeed.
It is upon that principle that His Majesty's Government based the Draft Declaration of policy which my right hon. and learned Friend the Lord Privy Seal took out to India to discuss with Indian political leaders. That declaration offered to India complete and unqualified freedom, the same freedom as is enjoyed by the Dominions, or for that matter by ourselves, the same unfettered control over her future destiny within the partnership of the British Commonwealth—or without that partnership if she preferred to forgo its advantages—at the earliest possible moment after the war under a Constitution arrived at by free agreement and. subject to fulfilment under treaty 1390 arrangements of our honourable obligations. What more could have been offered? That offer stands. What more can we offer to-day? What better plan has anyone suggested? In the meantime, my right hon. and learned Friend invited Indian political leaders to share the responsibility of conducting India's Government during the war to the fullest extent compatible with the existing Constitution, that is to say, subject to the ultimate responsibility, through the Viceroy, to Parliament here.
These were and are two interconnected and inseparable parts of the same policy. The limitation of any interim Government to the framework of the existing Constitution was, in any case, an inevitable necessity so long as the final responsibility for waging the war rested with His Majesty's Government, for it is upon the whole machinery of government, and not merely upon the Commander-in-Chief's Department, that India's war effort depends. But there is more to it than that. An unqualified abdication of that responsibility, before an agreed Constitution had been arrived at, would have meant the abandonment to a wholly irresponsible body of the power to decide whether there ever would be an agreed Constitution. It would have meant for the minorities the sacrifice of all guarantee for their future right to have an effective say in deciding the form of government under which they were to live. To ask their representatives to enter an interim Government on such a footing would, as Mr. Jinnah has very shrewdly remarked, be inviting the fly to walk into the spider's parlour. It was not my right hon. and learned Friend's rejection of the Congress demand for immediate, unqualified and unlimited power that wrecked a settlement. If he had accepted the demand his acceptance would equally have wrecked a settlement, for it would at once have been repudiated by Moslem India. It was the demand, and not my right hon. and learned Friend's rejection of it, that wrecked the negotiations, and was meant to wreck the negotiations. To understand why the Congress Party Executive, under Mr. Gandhi's influence——
§ Mr. Maxton
The right hon. Gentleman said that me demand not only wrecked the negotiations, but was meant to wreck the negotiations. Will he tell us why he asserts that?
§ Mr. Amery
I was just preparing to give my reasons for that conclusion. To understand why the Congress Party Executive, under Mr. Gandhi's influence, was determined to wreck any settlement, however generous to India, I must ask the House to go back for a moment to the whole course of Congress policy in recent years. Originally a constitutional party with a programme of evolution towards complete self-government, Congress has in the last generation, and especially since it has come under Mr. Gandhi's autocratic influence, become a party of revolution. That Mr. Gandhi has always conceived of that revolution as non-violent does not alter its essential character. His consistent aim and that of his followers has been, not the progressive transformation of British rule in India into Indian rule, but its direct supersession at some given moment by Congress as the result of some upheaval to which the existing Government and Parliament here should surrender. To that end the organisation of Congress has been steadily strengthened and ever more rigidly centralised. There is, I think, no more interesting or more dangerous modern political phenomenon than that of the revolutionary leader who by his direct personal appeal to the masses is not only able to control an immensely powerful political organisation but can make impossible all resistance to his arbitrary wishes on the part of his associates. His appeal may be to the German passion for brute force or it may be to Hindu mysticism and reverence for the ascetic. The same type of dictatorship emerges. In the case of India it has been steadily used to build up power for the eventual trial of strength while rejecting all compromise either with the British Government or with other elements in India. When the Congress High Command allowed Congress Ministries to take office in the Provinces where its organisation had secured majorities it did so avowedly to wreck the Constitution at its chosen moment and meanwhile to increase its hold upon the whole machinery of provincial life.
§ Mr. S. O. Davies (Merthyr)
May I ask, on that very important point, did the India Office or this Government at any time criticise the administration of the Congress Ministries in the Provinces at the time they were in existence? Is it not a fact that by representatives of this Government they were complimented over 1392 and over again, and is it not a fact also that it was not until Congress Ministries had been compelled to give up their work that criticism started by this Government?
§ Mr. Amery
I am not concerned to criticise Congress Governments, but the policy of the Congress High Command, which at the end of 1939 ordered out the Ministers, stopped such good work as they were doing and compelled the Provincial Governors to take over direct control under Section 93 of the Government of India Act, for the further continuance of which provision is made in the present Bill. They did so under the mistaken impression that the Government would be seriously embarrassed. What they overlooked was the general antagonism which they created by their autocratic methods, above all in the ranks of Moslems in India. For the Moslems, Congress rule in the Provinces, and even more perhaps the manner of its termination, was a revelation of what they might expect from Congress rule at the Centre. It made Mr. Jinnah for the first time the undoubted leader of the Moslem masses. At the 1937 election the Moslem League was only one of a number of Moslem parties. Since January, 1938, the League or coalition supported by the League have won 46 out of 56 by-elections in Moslem seats, while Congress has only won three. So far from realizing the strength of resistance which it had created for itself the Congress Executive only became more firmly set in its conviction that it was entitled to regard itself as the one and only legitimate mouthpiece of Indian nationalism and as the natural heir to the existing Government of India.
The proposals brought to India by my right hon. Friend placed the Working Committee in a real quandary. Some of its members realized the difficulty of rejecting so generous an offer, but the majority, swayed by Mr. Gandhi, must have seen in acceptance not only the abandonment of non-violence in face of what they thought might well be a coming Axis victory but, even worse, the abandonment of the whole Congress claim to settle the destiny of India. They decided on rejection and put up a demand for immediate unqualified power, which they knew could not be granted. What I wish to make clear to the House is that the movement to counteract the effect of rejection and to rally Congress on an 1393 emotional plane as the champions of India against British tyranny and aggression—that this rebellion, to use Mr. Gandhi's own words, this criminal plan to paralyse the ordinary life of India and to sabotage Indian capacity for defence, was deliberately resolved upon in order to defeat the generous policy put forward by His Majesty's Government. The various series of resolutions, whether based on the assumption of negotiation with Japan or professing to advocate the maximum of help to the Allied cause, were a mere smokescreen to cover a pre-determined policy.
§ Dr. Haden Guest (Islington)
I have a question which it is very vital to ask while the Minister is still speaking—[Interruption]—unless I am ruled out of Order.
The Minister is making charges that for years past Congress has had a revolutionary policy aimed at the object he has mentioned. Does he propose to quote documents in support of that statement, and does he propose to publish documents in support of that statement, because they are certainly unknown to this House?
§ Mr. Amery
I was only expressing the conclusions I have arrived at from the study I have been able to give to that situation both now and in recent years, and I justify this to such extent as the limits of the present Debate allow. I suggest therefore that the House should allow me to continue. I am endeavouring to express as briefly as I can reasoned conclusions.
§ Mr. Silverman
This is a very important part of the Minister's speech. Did the Lord Privy Seal when he came back from India share the view that the right hon. Gentleman now expresses, that in putting forward this demand the Indian National Congress intended to wreck the negotiations? If he did share that view, what did he mean by saying that the negotiations had been extremely useful and had cleared the air and paved the way for future understanding?
§ Mr. Amery
In answer to that question, I would say that my right hon. and learned Friend expressed his view very clearly by his intervention during the last 1394 Debate. It is idle to suggest that anything could possibly have resulted from negotiations after the passing of the All-India Congress Party's resolution except the more complete organisation of plans for dislocating communications and making rebellion effective. The Government of India, unless it wished to shirk the first duty of any Government, had no option but to take action. Its prompt and firm action may well have saved India and indeed the whole Allied cause from grave disaster. I need not repeat the account that I gave in the last Debate of the actual course of the outbreaks which followed. Enough to say that the firmness of the Government, loyally supported by the Civil Service, the police and when it became necessary, the Army, has broken the back of a movement, which, even if it was prevented from perfecting its preparations, was still very formidable, a movement which for a while seriously interrupted communications in what is strategically the most vital area of India and caused widespread destruction of property and deplorable loss of life. It would be rash to say that we are yet out of the wood. Sporadic disturbances are still reported daily. The forces of law and order will for months to come have to be unceasingly vigilant and will need all the support that the Government of India and this House can give them. But those forces have at any rate won the first and we can only hope the decisive round.
For all this tragic business the responsibility, and the whole responsibility, must rest with Mr. Gandhi and the Congress leaders. The precise extent to which on any one occasion or in any particular place other elements ranging from mere hooliganism to more sinister revolutionary fifth-column activity may have cooperated may never be determined, nor will it ever be easy to trace all the channels by which the general directives for revolutionary action and particularly the systematic and obviously planned and prepared attack upon communications were distributed, whether in actual printed instructions or in shorter leaflets or conveyed verbally by subordinate Congress leaders, or by the students who played so large a part in this business, I do not know. In any case you cannot preach the overthrow of Government, you cannot avow that you are in "open rebellion" and declare your willingness to risk 1395 the anarchy that may follow an appeal to the masses to "resist slavery", and then disclaim responsibility for the consequences. It is at any rate significant, in view of the fact that Congress is essentially a Hindu organisation, though by no means the only Hindu organisation, and more particularly in view of Mr. Gandhi's influence upon the uneducated Hindu masses, that the Moslem population in towns and villages as well as the Moslem students at the universities have kept resolutely aloof from the disturbances and have given help and support to the authorities. On this issue they received a straightforward lead from Mr. Jinnah, who has left no doubt as to his opinion that the Congress attack, professedly aimed against British rule, is in fact a direct attack upon the rest of India and upon Moslem India in particular. It is only fair to add that large elements of the Hindu population have also made clear their repudiation of the outbreak and have in many cases co-operated loyally with the authorities.
So much for the past. The House will naturally wish to know what is the policy of His Majesty's Government and the Government of India in relation to the present position and to the immediate future. So far as Congress is concerned, its leaders have by their action put themselves out of court. There can be no question of the Government of India entering upon negotiations with them, or allowing others to do so, as long as there is any danger of a recrudescence of the troubles for which they have been responsible, or until they have made it clear to the authorities that they have abandoned the whole policy of securing control of India by illegal and revolutionary methods and are prepared to come to an agreed settlement with the rest of their fellow countrymen. There is no hope of improving the situation and easing the present deadlock by attempting the appeasement of Congress in its present mood and outlook. To do so would only create greater difficulties with the Moslem and other parties. Above all, it would be regarded as a direct betrayal by the Army, the police and the Civil Service, who have played so steadfast a part in these troubles, and upon whom the whole safety of India and the fate of the Allied cause so largely depend. The question is whether any immediate interim solution can be found 1396 apart from Congress. The door remains open, as has been repeatedly been made clear, for the favourable consideration of any proposal made by the leaders of the other main parties within the framework of our Declaration, in other words, subject to the retention of the ultimate responsibility of the Viceroy and of Parliament pending the framing of an agreed Constitution. That is inevitable, not only because of our responsibility for seeing the war to a successful conclusion, but also because it is the only guarantee for those concerned that the constitutional future will not be prejudged to their detriment.
What prospect is there of such an agreement? There is—and we welcome the fact—a much wider recognition in India of the need for agreement. I fear it would be premature to suggest that, so far, that recognition has involved any great readiness to compromise in order to secure agreement. The Moslem League, for instance, is prepared to enter a National Government provided always that the right of the Moslems to an entirely separate national existence is guaranteed beforehand. Mahasabha, the leading Hindu party outside Congress, are equally prepared, but only on the basis of a United India, in which the Hindus shall dominate in virtue of their numerical preponderence. In those conditions agreement on the desirability of a National Government brings us no nearer to a solution. The one obvious method of getting nearer to an agreement is the serious discussion of the actual problem of finding a Constitution under which the interests of the different elements could be reconciled. That line of progress need not wait for the setting up of any formal constitutional convention. It has been open ever since we declared two years ago that India should be free to frame her own Constitution. It is open to-day.
Is it too much to hope that, failing agreement upon any immediate solution, Indian statesmen and students of affairs might still get together with mutual good will to deal with that problem, for it is only in the light of the future constitutional settlement that any real progress can be made towards the solution of the present deadlock, which it cannot be said too often is essentially a deadlock not between India and the British Government but within India, a deadlock which only Indians can solve. The good will 1397 and good offices of the Viceroy are always available and have been continuously available, but in situations like this, as in international relations outside, intervention can only help when there is a readiness to respond.
Meanwhile, let us consider where we stand. The government of India is to-day in the hands of an Executive of whose 15 members, apart from the Viceroy, 11 are Indians. The Indian members do not include representatives of the two opposed major political organisations. But in every other respect they are as representative of India's diverse elements and as able a body of practical administrators as can be found in India. They are men who have put India first, who are there to serve their country and to win the war. It is the collective opinion of these Indian members and of their tried and experienced European colleagues that decides the normal course of Indian Government; and the ultimate responsibility of His Majesty's Government here, exercised through the Viceroy's power of veto, has not, in fact, as Sir Firoz Khan, the Defence Member, recently pointed out, been used once in his year's experience to override the majority of the Council. That Council has dealt firmly and effectively with the recent revolutionary outbreak. In closest co-operation with the Commander-in-Chief its War Resources Committee is concerned with mobilising India's resources behind the Allied war effort.
What is there so amiss, until the political deadlock within India shows signs of clearing, in continuing to rely upon an instrument of government that has already proved and is proving itself? Behind that Government, and in loyal support of it, stand India's whole present war effort. I would bid the House and the outside world reflect what that war effort means to-day and may mean tomorrow to the whole Allied cause, to the fortune of war in the Middle East, to the fate of China. That Army, every man of which is a volunteer, is growing at the rate of some 70,000 recruits a month. It is backed by the splendid help which the Indian Princes have given in the shape of their own State forces, as well as by over 100,000 State subjects who have joined the Indian Army. In that Army there are no communal or party divisions. Let us be very careful lest, by attempting 1398 to appease the unappeasable opponents of any agreed constitutional progress and so provoke grave communal conflict, we break that Army to pieces. Let those whose interests are no less than ours in the success of India's war effort beware of the illusion that the Allied cause can be helped by substituting for India's trained and equipped forces the somewhat hypothetical enthusiasm of unorganised, untrained and unequipped civilians or the far more probable alternative of chaos and paralysis in place of ordered effort.
From the Central Government let me turn to the Governments of India's great Provinces, Governments also making their contribution to the war effort, but principally concerned with the wide field of the social services. In five of these Provinces, with a population of some 110,000,000, ministerial Government responsible to elected legislatures has con-tinned unbroken. In the remaining six, those with effective Congress majorities, ministerial Government was deliberately suspended by the Congress High Command three years ago. As a result Section 93 of the Government of India Act, providing for the resumption of direct control by the Governor in the event of a breakdown of Parliamentary Government, has been in force ever since. The Bill now before the House provides for its further continuance subject to annual confirmation by Parliament for a period not exceeding 12 months after the end of the war period. This does not, of course, prevent the resumption of ministerial Government at any time if a ministry can be found which is in a position to secure sufficient Parliamentary support and is ready to support the war effort. Such a resumption has, in fact, taken place in Orissa and more recently after a short suspension in Assam. That door is always open.
There is one point in connection with the continuance of direct government on which I wish to reassure the House. One of the main objects of the extension of Provincial autonomy under the 1935 Act was to secure popular support for more rapid progress in the development of the social services. That expectation was undoubtedly fulfilled—and this is my answer to the hon. Member opposite. In all the Provinces there was great activity, both legislative and administrative, and this has continued increasingly, in spite of 1399 war conditions, in those Provinces which have remained under ministerial control. What the House will, I am sure, be glad to know is that there has been no standing still, no mere "care and maintenance" policy in the Provinces where Congress Governments have been succeeded by direct control. A few broad figures will illustrate my point. Expenditure on education, medical services and public health, agriculture and industry in the Budget estimates for 1942–43 has risen above those for 1936–37 by 17 per cent. in Madras, 46 per cent. in Bombay, 41 per cent. in the United Provinces, 22 per cent. in Behar, 12 per cent. in the Central Provinces, and 21 per cent. in the North West Frontier Province. In almost all these cases the greater part of this increase has been during the period of direct government. In Madras 42 Acts, cover-inter alia such matters as industrial conciliation, inspection of factories and the control of money lending, were passed in 1940 and 1941, while there has been a great increase of expenditure on education, agriculture, veterinary research and electrical development. In Bombay nearly £2,000,000 have been allotted in the last three years to a special development fund mainly for rural purposes, while special attention has been devoted to demonstration farms, to village water supplies and to Government schemes for dealing with epidemics.
That is the picture of India I have to give the House. It is a picture dark and confused in parts, but over most of the canvas shaping itself not unhopefully. The problem of India is full of difficulties. They are there to be overcome and will be overcome. We have only to hold on to the course we have set ourselves with steadfast, patient persistence, with goodwill towards India's national aspirations, with faith in our Indian fellow citizens, above all with faith in ourselves. We have carried out a great work in India in former years. Why should we hold ourselves incapable or unworthy of bringing that work to its true conclusion? What need, in India or anywhere in the wide world, to be ashamed of our past or fear our future?
§ Flight Lieutenant Raikes (Essex, South East)
I think the whole House, or most of the House, will agree with the Secretary of State for India that our firmness 1400 and courage in the course of the last few months have perhaps not only saved India but saved the whole Allied cause from disaster. At the same time the Secretary of State realises, as the whole House must also realise, that a policy of repression alone can be and will be no lasting solution of the Indian problem. When the Government of India Act passed through the House it made it very plain to all India that the British Raj had determined within a measurable period of time to hand over the future of India to Indians. I want to make my own position quite clear. I was one of those who were opposed to that Measure but I realised that once it had passed the word of Britain was at stake. If there is one thing which is certain in an uncertain world it is that disregard of the pledged word has sent Europe to ruin, and that the pledged word has got to be maintained if any civilisation is ever to exist again.
What is our position in India to-day? First, we have the Government of India Act on the Statute Book. Then we have had, with the start of provincial autonomy, that provincial autonomy wrecked at an early stage by Congress Ministers retiring from office. The Cripps Mission followed. It went further than ever the Government of India Act went. It went so far as to offer, almost without safeguards, control at the centre to India as soon as the present danger of disaster from Japan at the door had been cleared away. The Cripps Mission failed. It failed on the initiative of Congress. It is quite true that other parties also rejected it, but it was rejected upon the initiative of Congress. Of that there is no doubt and there can be no doubt. I am convinced that the Government to-day still stands by the ideals which inspired that Mission, and that if the time comes, as it will come, when responsible Indians are prepared to make of India a vast self-governing Dominion, that that promise will still hold good. But for that promise to be maintained and to hold good there must be a people prepared to form a National Government, we must have safeguards for the rights of minorities, we must have the safeguard of law and order—I do not mean in our hands, but in the hands of Indians prepared to safeguard it—and beyond all that there must be a fair deal for the depressed classes of India. Without those safe- 1401 guards the whole of our trusteeship for India would have been in vain and futile.
This is a moment when a mere Back Bencher might say one word in regard to our past. No more harm can be done than is done when speeches are made in this House and outside sneering at the work which we have done for India in past years, giving the impression that we are rather feebly apologising for our past and are rather ashamed. That does harm abroad and is totally untrue. After all, when we came to India we came to an India which after long ages of rule by an alien dynasty had followed that up with a long period of chaos and anarchy. We came to an India where nationality meant nothing and where caste meant almost everything. We gave to that India political unity and, beyond that, we gave it sanitation, we gave it health services and, perhaps most important of all, we gave it, through the medium of the British language, that which has made the growth of political institutions in India inevitable and serious. Every discussion between Indian leaders since India first started to look towards self-government has been based on the British ideals of self-government and has been based on their knowledge of the British language.
Having given those things, it would be lunacy and madness to cast away that foundation until we can build, or hand over to those in India who can build, the structure which we are proud to have created. One hears sometimes light sneers at the past, but when I think of the tens of thousands, nay the millions, of Indians who would not be alive to-day if it had not been for what we have done in sanitation and medical services—very often meaning that our own doctors and nurses were facing death and disease for the sake of India—I feel that we should be proud of what we have done.
Now I will come to the present. The picture is, I admit, rather a gloomy one, but it has been made far more gloomy to us by the irresponsible attitude of Mahatma Gandhi in Congress, I will not say only in the past year but especially of late years. Gandhi's cry of "Leave India to God or anarchy" would have meant, taken at its face value, the loss of everything that could make India a nation. Congress has called for civil dis- 1402 obedience. While civil disobedience exists there can be no treaty with the people who are working it. British prestige has. Heaven knows, fallen a great deal in the East during the past few months, but it has not fallen because we have not been firm in India. It has fallen because of the defeats which we have, unfortunately, suffered in the Far East, at Singapore and elsewhere, and the fact that we are prepared to say to-day that while we will give self-government to India, we can only give self-government to people who are prepared to stand for the cause of freedom, has done more to encourage men and women in the East than anything else for a long period of time.
People sometimes take the view that we can still do something with Congress, but to give Congress its due, Congress is being very plain as to what it wants. Congress has demanded all or nothing—no safeguards, complete control, disappearance of foreign troops from India, and, beyond that, the power, if they so desire, to negotiate with Japan. An hon. Member shakes his head, and so I shall turn for a moment to the report. I am basing those observations not on mere speculation but on the discussions of the All-India. Congress Committee recently published to the world, a publication which, I think rather embarrassed some of the gentlemen taking part in those discussions. What does that report show? First of all complete disunity amongst Congress itself for carrying on war against Japan, even if Congress desired to do so. There is first of all the communal cleavage, but there is something far beyond that. There is a curious lack of unity, which runs through all those Congress discussions, as to whether they want to stand up to aggression at all. First of all, Gandhi's draft declaration was put before the Committee. The first draft declaration, the original one, laid down among other things that in his view if we were to move out of India they would probably negotiate with Japan. He also laid it down in that draft, in no uncertain language, that they had no cause of enmity against Japan or, indeed, against any other nation. Beyond that there was nothing in the draft regulation except the expression of their view that the introduction of foreign soldiers, including Americans, into India was a disgrace and showed the wickedness of British Imperialism, and that the most Congress 1403 could do was to pursue the doctrine of non-resistance.
When that draft came before the Working Committee they first decided that it might be advisable to expunge certain of the more violent things in it, in regard to Japan. Nehru pointed out that the draft gave the impression that the Congress was willing to lie down with the Axis and that that impression would be very unfortunate throughout the world. Then Nehru produced his draft, which was finally accepted. It was much more tactful and moderate. The Working Committee had a long discussion upon it, in which the majority of the members appeared to make it plain that they were not going to excuse themselves for standing up for Japan. Nehru's draft was heavily defeated in the first instance; I think the voting was 11 to 7. Then the chairman said he thought there was very little difference between Nehru's draft and Gandhi's draft, and the Nehru draft was finally accepted.
Throughout all those discussions it was plain that the majority of the Committee had no more intention of fighting against Japan than they had of jumping over the moon. It has even been suggested that they would oppose a scorched-earth policy because, according to the doctrines of non-violence, that policy could not properly apply to Indians who would thus destroy things which they might hope sometimes would come back to them. Hon. Members opposite at times have expressed their views about Munich and appeasement; I wish they would turn their attention to attempts at appeasement far more important than Munich.
§ Flight-Lieutenant Raikes
Munich was used by us to strengthen ourselves in order to be able to fight, but there is no suggestion of that sort in India.
§ Mr. Maxton
Surely the late Mr. Chamberlain did not urge that point of view when he went to Munich.
§ Flight-Lieutenant Raikes
I do not suppose that he did urge that point of view, but we were re-arming at that time, and we have re-armed ever since.
§ Earl Winterton (Horsham and Worthing)
My hon. and gallant Friend has made a very serious statement which reflects upon the late Mr. Chamberlain and everybody in his Cabinet. Perhaps he does not realise the gravity of his remarks. He suggests that the Munich agreement was merely carried out in order to give this country time to re-arm.
§ Flight-Lieutenant Raikes
I have not had the long political experience possessed by the Noble Lord, but I did not suggest that Munich was carried out merely to re-arm. I will just reply to the point by saying that of course, at Munich, Mr. Chamberlain would not tell Hitler that he was going to sign merely in order to rearm and fight against him afterwards, but we were re-arming then, and we continued to re-arm. On the other hand, the Congress Committee are doing nothing of the sort. Members of that Committee say that the Indian Army is no good to them—although their men are in it—as it is segregated from them, and they do not regard those soldiers as being their people.
There was an element among them which did, and I believe still do, wish to stand up to Japan. I pay my tribute to Nehru for the courage he showed. If the Civil Disobedience Campaign were called off I am certain that the British Government would welcome the co-operation of any Congressmen who were out to stand against aggression. I fear that those men would be a minority of the Congress party. They would certainly be a minority of the Working Committee. Fortunately, as the Secretary of State has made clear, Congress does not stand for all India. I do not suggest that the Congress party is not a great and powerful party, but like many other parties it is at present on the down-grade in power. Its registered membership has fallen since 1937 from 4,500,000 to about 1,500,000. That does not mean that many more than that would not vote for them, but it clearly shows their deterioration in strength. Hon. Members in the Labour Party would feel that they were deteriorating if their membership were dropping week by week.
1405 On the other hand, the Moslem League is rising in strength. It has seen great increases at by-election results. I came across an instance the other day where the Moslem League polled 10,000 votes against 800 votes by the nominee of the Anti-Moslem League. The Moslem League represents the Moslem world far more in India than has been the case at any other period. It is our duty to recognise that fact and to take care that Moslem opinion shall not be forced under Hindu control without proper safeguards. If the Moslems are unable to work with the Hindus in their own Provinces, some degree of self-government must be given to the Moslem League. Apart from the Moslem League, there are many Indians in all classes of society who are standing up against the present Congress movement. There are Indians who are dying day after day for the India in which they believe. Although police have been murdered, Mr. Gandhi has not found it possible, so far as I know, to oppose this result of his non-resistance movement.
These people have to be protected so that they can play their part in the new India. I welcome the fact that we have an Amendment on the Paper so that we can have a vote this evening. Those who may stand up to-day and say that the Government have no real support will be shown to be a minority, and it will be shown by the vote that the Government have the full support of the people of this country in their efforts to bring law, order and firmness to India.
§ Mr. McGovern
Is it not true that the hon. and gallant Member was one of the minority against the Government of India Act?
§ Flight-Lieutenant Raikes
If the hon. Member had listened to the early part of my speech, he would have heard me deal with that point. This small minority today will show itself unrepresentative and without policy. I do not often quote from the past, but there is one quotation which dealt with a little group in this House long before hon. Members were born, and I venture to quote it. It is to this effect:Because half-a-dozen grasshoppers make the whole field ring with their importunate chink, while thousands of great cattle repose beneath the shadow of British oaks, let us not imagine that those grasshoppers are the only inhabitants of the field, that they are many in number or that they are more than little, 1406 meagre, shrivelled, hopping, yet loud and quarrelsome, insects of the hour.May the Secretary of State's first words to-day be fulfilled, and India, which we on this side who are the true progressives wish to see built up on the great foundations of the past, go steadfastly forward, long after the carping critics of to-day have carped themselves into their own graves.
§ Mr. Maxton (Glasgow, Bridgeton)
I beg to move, to leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof:this House declines to give a Second Reading to a Bill which deals only with provincial and secondary aspects of the Indian problem without attempting to solve the main difficulties of Central Government which are the cause of the deadlock in the Provinces.We have had a very delightful speech delivered by the hon. and gallant Gentleman, but it was far removed from describing the actual facts of the Indian situation at any point in our relationship with India. The hon. and gallant Gentleman indicated that we had gone to India with the highest motives.
§ Mr. Maxton
Obviously we did not do so. He suggested that we had remained there also with the highest motives. I do not think that that contention can be maintained. He said that all the time we had been there we had been struggling our hardest to educate the Indians. Surely the hon. and gallant Member will not assert that that is true. Have we been trying to provide decent health services for the Indians?
§ Sir Francis Fremantle (St. Albans)
Certainly; I have taken part in them myself, and I know what I am speaking of.
§ Mr. Maxton
We were in India a long time before the hon. Gentleman came into the world. Are hon. Members being quite fair and square with themselves? They know perfectly well, and nobody more than the hon. Gentleman opposite, that we have been slack about the education of our own people, of our own medical, health and housing services. Does the hon. Member deny that?
§ Mr. Maxton
The hon. Gentleman does himself an injustice. He has often almost bored the House on a number of occasions trying to force his own Government to do things for the health services in this country. If we have been slack in dealing with the problems in our own country, it can be said that we have never even looked at the beginnings of the problem in India. The infantile death-rate in India is still shocking, and much more terrible than in my own Division, where it is three times as much as it ought to be, because it is a poor, working-class district; but Bridgeton is a paradise compared with India, where the figure runs into the hundreds for each thousand infants born. As for labour, hours and wages are shocking. Let us face the facts. The hon. and gallant Gentleman states that we have brought political unity to India, but the Secretary of State spent the whole of his speech showing how impossible it was to grant India self-government because there is no unity. There are warring castes, classes, sects, nations and princes. There is no essential unity in India at all.
The hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher) said that this was a filleted Amendment. I do not know what experience he has of the fish trade, but "filleted" is a term which applies there. I assure him that in this Amendment all the trimmings have gone but the bones and guts still remain, and I do not think that describes filleting in the technical sense of the term. But we did not draft it to meet his convenience in the hope that he might vote for us, because we know that on every occasion when any issue of big principle arises he always finds some reason for not voting on the side on which we understood his principles had lain. We drafted this Amendment for the purpose of giving the House the best and clearest opportunity of giving its vote on this subject. We drafted it having regard to the idea there would be the widest possible scope on the bigger issue than was provided in the Bill itself. We believed this House ought to have had the right at the very moment when the new policy started in India. I hope my right hon. and learned Friend the Lord Privy Seal will not object to my using that phrase. It was adopted when the leaders of the Congress Party were seized and put into prison. He had protested that there was no new policy. I think he is right to this extent, that the 1408 basic offer, as I understand it, still remains what it was.
I am glad that the right hon. Gentleman seemed to-day to make his statement about the intentions of the Government towards India more definite, clear and precise than ever he has done before. He promised complete independence to India, even the breaking of the Dominion association if India so desired. Will he allow me to take this opportunity of remedying a serious misstatement, which I did not intend to make, but which I did make on the last occasion we discussed India, and which has done the right hon. Gentleman a serious injustice? I said that he and the Prime Minister were of a similar view at the time the Government of India Bill passed this House. I did not intend to say it, but as I read it in the OFFICIAL REPORT I did undoubtedly say that the Prime Minister and the right hon. Gentleman were both opponents of the Government of India Bill. That was very far from being the truth, as I very well knew. It was a notable thing to see the division there was between the right hon. Gentleman and his present Leader at that time. The right hon. Gentleman consistently supported the Bill in all its stages, and opposed the small and noisy element of reaction. All that I meant to say was that, in my view, these two had the same fundamental view about the India Bill. The right hon. Gentleman was prepared to extend political liberty to India, but was not prepared to grant the real thing. He and the Prime Minister were like two other great historical figures, whose names I have forgotten for the moment, who were prepared to give a great lot, but kept back part of the price. I regret that I should have made out the right hon. Gentleman to have been an opponent of the India Bill, and I hope that the statement I have made will correct any damage I may have done.
§ Mr. Maxton
I cannot believe that my utterances do either a lot of good or a lot of harm. Having taken the first opportunity of correcting my statement, I hope that I shall have prevented it from doing a great deal of harm. Although the right hon. Gentleman has gone further to-day than ever before, I think it would 1409 have been a good thing for him to have put the offer of the Lord Privy Seal in its final form, as supported by the Secretary of State for India to-day, into a Clause of the Bill. There is no statutory authority saying that India is going to have complete independence: nothing but the words of various Ministers. It could have been easily stated in the Bill that India is to receive freedom on certain conditions. We should then have seen what reactions that brought from India.
When I listen to Conservative Members—and Labour Members as well—speaking on this subject, I am amazed at their lack of historical sense. The right hon. Gentleman and the hon. Gentleman opposite seem to want to give India a nice perfect Constitution, bound in calf and leather, with blue ribbons and all the rest of it, and to say, "There is a Constitution: all your problems are solved. All the caste differences and religious differences are broken down; all your social problems are disposed of." Fancy the British House of Commons thinking that that is the way that British Constitutions are made. You say to India, "Solve all your problems, and you can have a Constitution." Imagine King John saying that to the barons. Imagine Cromwell saying it. Imagine France saying that to us at the time of the Wars of the Roses. We, of all people, whose Constitution has grown up in a haphazard fashion, as a result of all sorts of battles and brawls, fights and struggles, imprisonments and deaths, and all the rest of it: we who still have our great religious feuds. The last disabilities of the Roman Catholics, dating back 300 years, were removed only during my time in this House.
§ Mr. Molson (The High Peak)
It is not we alone who say that it is necessary for this communal matter to be settled in India. It is Gandhi who wrote:The attainment of independence is an impossibility until we have solved the communal trouble. We need not blind ourselves to a naked fact.
§ Mr. Maxton
Yes, I got a copy of that, too. Somebody has been very busy distributing them. That only goes to show that hon. Members and Mr. Gandhi have a lot in common. I disagree with both. I am trying to present the historical perspective, and to show that it is only after you have got your freedom that you 1410 start to struggle through your difficulties. I throw back to the Government the jibe that they have so frequently thrown across the Floor—at me perhaps more than at others. Their errors are errors of the head, and not errors of the heart. They have also misread the mind of the Indian people. Do not believe that by dodging about with one little group and another you will get the Indian people to fight if they do not intend to do so. If the Indian people as a mass have no intention of fighting in this war, they will not do it. Surely if you have learned anything in this war, you have learned that. You could not get France to fight, because they never intended to fight. You could not get Malaya to fight. You could not get Burma to fight. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for India thought when he clapped U Saw, the Premier of Burma, into jail that all the problems were solved. The strong hand of Government—that is the great idea. Honestly, the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State believed that he had solved the problem when he put U Saw into gaol. You see what has happened in these various places.
§ Mr. Maxton
Ireland is an entirely different proposition. I would not attempt to go into that, because I am certain that, given an opportunity, Ireland will fight, though I do not know what they will fight about. Do not delude yourselves that you can trick 400,000,000 people on to the battlefield. All that this House can do is to say, "There is your freedom, and we trust you will make the wisest, best and most sensible use of that freedom in the interests of your own country and of humanity."
§ Mr. Stephen (Glasgow, Camlachie)
I beg to second the Amendment.
I appreciate that one must have a certain amount of responsibility in dealing with this question, in view of what may happen in India in days to come. Our words here will go out to India, and even the words of the Opposition will find their way and circulate among the people of India. At the same time, while I realise how grim is the situation in India at the present time, I feel that it is absolutely necessary to be frank with 1411 the House and to try to persuade the House to realise that, as far as India is concerned, if we take the statement of the Secretary of State for India at its face value, we are living in a fools' paradise. He tried to give us a picture at the end of his speech that things had quietened down and that with the exhibition of firmness by the Government the worst was past and that India would be very strong in its defence against any invasion by the enemy. He makes me think of his attitude at an earlier stage of the war when we were faced with the Japanese invasion of Burma. Then, too, he was doing the strong man stuff. The Prime Minister of Burma came over here and pleaded with the Government to realise the problem that had to be faced in Burma and to recognise the independence of Burma, but in spite of all he could say he met with no response. There were no religious differences preventing the granting of independence at once to Burma, The Lord Privy Seal made a great deal of that in his broadcast in connection with India. There was nothing like that in respect of Burma, but the strong man, the Secretary of State for India, this "mighty man of valour," imprisoned the Prime Minister of Burma, and when the invasion took place you had the Burmese fighting against you, and you have lost Burma. [An HON. MEMBER: "Absolutely wrong."] The interruption of the hon. Member is an exhibition of the fact that he himself shuts his eyes to what he does not want to believe, and if there was any occasion when one should not indulge in wishful thinking it is in connection with the Indian problem. We have had the experience with Burma. We were assured that it was all right, and we have found from sad experience that it was all wrong, and I believe that our experience in India, unless the Government change their policy, will be the same as it was with regard to Burma.
What is the position in India to-day? Thousands of the most trusted and loved leaders of the Indian people are in gaol. They are under detention, in concentration camps, shut up, and along with the imprisonment of thousands of leaders, the people are under a reign of terror. Flogging has been introduced, and there has also been added to the iniquity of the policy of the Government the imposing of 1412 collective fines upon communities where trouble takes place. That is the position. Thousands of the most loved leaders of the country are in jail, there are the flogging and machine-gunning of people in case of rioting, and collective fines are being imposed. Where is this happening? Is it something that is being done by Hitler? These are the things that are in our Press, and there is only indignation about them happening in Norway. Exactly what you condemn in Norway under the Hitler régime is what the British Government are doing in India. There is no material and fundamental difference. [An HON. MEMBER: "It is wicked."] I am glad I am getting the support of the hon. Member in my statement that it is absolutely wicked on the part of the British Government in a period like this to adopt the policy of the Nazi Government in their treatment of the Indian people.
The next point I wish to make is that when the Government are taken to task by Members in this House, and the unfortunate effect of their policy is pointed out to them, they say, "What else can we do? We sent out the Lord Privy Seal to India to promise them independence after the war, to give them the possibility in the future of a Constitution if they would back the Government in this period of stress and strain but the wicked Congress turned down our offer." The Secretary of State immediately he had jailed the Indian leaders broadcast to the world saying how the Congress leaders were saboteurs of the war effort. I think the right hon. Gentleman has some authority when it comes to talking abolt sabotage, because I have a quotation here which shows the position that he himself took up at an earlier stage in his career. Who is the Secretary of State to talk? Is he not the same gentleman who, when Japan invaded Manchuria, said:I confess I see no reason whatever why, either in act or in word, or sympathy, we should go, individually or internationally, against Japan in this matter. Who is there among us to cast the first stone and say that Japan ought not to have acted with the object of creating peace and order in Manchuria and defending herself against the continual aggression of vigorous Chinese nationalism? Our whole policy in India, our whole policy in Egypt stands condemned if we condemn Japan.The man who said that is the man who is in charge of the affairs of this country in connection with the Indian people to-day 1413 and who is now trying to persuade them that the Japanese peril is a powerful peril. Not long ago he said the opposite; now he accuses Indians of being saboteurs. I say that he is the last person to make any such charge. Then the Prime Minister made a statement in the House recently trying to persuade us that, after all, Congress did not amount to so very much, that they did not really matter and that there were other parties in India, such as the Moslem League. Evidently the Government, from the statement made in moving this Bill to-day, are banking tremendously on Mr. Jinnah and the Moslem League. That, apparently, is their trump card in connection with their treatment of the Indian people. But I do not think Mr. Jinnah will be the least bit thankful to the Secretary of State for the kind things he said about him here to-day. I would draw the attention of the House to one of the many answers that could be made with regard to the position of the Moslems. Here is a paragraph from "The New Statesman":A dramatic answer has come to Mr. Churchill's claim that the 90,000,000 of Indian Moslims are opposed to the demands of Congress As a protest against the Prime Minister's speech, the Muslim Premier of Sind, Khan Bahadur Allahbaksh has renounced his titles, much as M. Herriot resigned the other day from the Legion of Honour. This he did after making a pronouncement in which he said that 'Mr. Churchill's statement confirms the belief that the British Government had at no time any desire to part with power.' He went on to affirm his demand for 'immediate independence,' declared that 'repression is no solution' and foresaw, failing a better understanding of India's aspirations, 'catastrophe impending.' Where are these 90,000,000 on whom Mr. Churchill relies? Four provinces have a Muslim majority. The Premier of Sind has spoken. The Premier of Bengal, Mr. Fazalul-Huq, is engaged in recruiting a 'progressive Muslim League' to rival Mr. Jinnah's conservative organisation. The North-West Frontier Province, though almost solidly Muslim, had a Congress Ministry and its Ministers are now presumably under detention or arrest there remains only the Punjab, whose cautious but popular Premier, Sir Muhammad Hyat Khan, cannot be reckoned a supporter of Mr. Jinnah, though he will not openly oppose him. On the evidence, Muslim opinion, though it condemns the resort of Congress to open revolt, is with it in its demand for a national government, and feels itself hardly less opposed to British policy.The position, as stated by the Secretary of State to-day, fills me with greater apprehension than ever because of the way in which he seems to be trusting to the Moslem section of the Indian people as against the overwhelming majority of 1414 the Indian people. The Government say, "What could we do in the circumstances? We cannot accept the demand of Congress for independence now because it is impossible in war-time to change over the administration." The Lord Privy Seal has said that Mr. Gandhi demanded that we should walk out of India, leaving the country, with its deep-rooted religious divisions, without any constitutional form of government and with no organised administration. No responsible Government, he said, could take such a step, least of all in the midst of war. But that is what you had to do in Burma, and I fear it is what you will have to do in India unless the, present policy is altered. I may be asked, "What would you do? You condemn the Government for taking action against Congress, but what would you do in the circumstances?" Well, I think that in India there is a tremendous opportunity for a Government with imagination and courage; there is a tremendous opportunity for that Government to find a solution to all Indian difficulties. The first item on that balance-sheet is the fact that every political party in India, without exception, demands independence now, not at some future date. Mr. Jinnah himself is just as insistent as Congress that independence should be granted now. All the people in India are saying to the House and to the Government to-day that the one thing they want from the British, people is independence, and they want it now. On that there is no division of opinion in India. All the parties, all the religious communities, including the Indian Christians, are in agreement that they should have independence now.
There is something on which the Government ought to be able to build. There are- in India very great leaders, men of tremendous ability, and the services of those men could be utilised. I say that the Government, if they were really sincere concerning the future independence of India, would arrange a conference of the representatives of all the parties in India. The Leaders of Congress should be released from jail right away. Nothing can be done until they are released. It is only a madman who would ever adopt the policy of putting them into jail. The Government should release the leaders of Congress and set up an immediate conference of the representatives of all the parties, informing them that independence is to be given to India immediately and 1415 that the responsibility is upon that conference to arrange for a provisional government to carry on the government of India. I recognise that there would be a certain period intervening during which the British connection would still be in existence, and in those circumstances I say that there would need to be a new Viceroy. It would be for a very brief period. The present man is finishing his term of office any way, and the opportunity is there. Let the Government show imagination in its appointment of the new Viceroy. I will put forward a candidate here, with the backing of the leader of the South African Government, General Smuts. General Smuts has said:It is curious how in these days of European confusion and decline Asia is steadily moving to the front. Among the greatest men on the public stage of the world to-day are two Asiatics, Gandhi and Chiang Kai-Shek, both moving immense masses of men along noble lines to a destiny which in essence is one of the high Christian ideal which the West has received but no longer seriously practises.Let the Government appoint Mr. Gandhi as the Viceroy of India for the intervening period. A government is possible under the leadership of Nehru. With such a conference given the opportunity to set up a provisional government immediately, I have not the slightest doubt that agreement would be found among the political parties. I know it will be said, "Why cannot they come together, without being called together by the Government, and then come to us, having decided upon the form of Government, and say, 'We have come to an agreement—carry it out'"? But every hon. Member knows the difficulty that there would be for them to come together unofficially in that way. The responsibility is the Government's. I appeal to the House to make the Government realise how dangerous is the Indian situation. There is one document that I would appeal to hon. Members to consider; it is the second resolution of Congress, which I ask hon. Members to read and study carefully. It is a great document. It is a wonderful pronouncement. It offered to the Secretary of State for India and the Government a tremendous opportunity which they have allowed to pass. Depend upon it that you cannot keep those 400,000,000 in subjection. You cannot keep them in your Empire if they do not want to stay 1416 in it. At the present time, throughout the world, you are meeting defeat after defeat.
§ Mr. Stephen
We are meeting defeat after defeat. The Government have led us from one defeat to another, and one of the reasons is that there is no moral appeal to people, because they do not believe in the sincerity of the Government. They do not believe that the Government really mean it when they talk about a new order and the great things that are to happen. I say to the House: Release India, give the Indians their independence, come forward with a bold programme of independence for the Indian people, and couple with it a statement that when Burma is retaken from the Japanese, Burma will be an independent country, and so will Malaya and all the other parts of the Colonial Empire. Let the British Government declare for a great all-embracing policy of freedom for all the subject peoples of the Empire, and so rouse and stir the workers throughout the world, and bring about the complete and speedy overthrow of the whole Hitler tyranny. In the last war the Germans' moral was broken more by the tremendous impetus that came from the Russian revolution than by anything else, and I believe that the freeing of the subject peoples of the Empire, the adoption of a great policy of freedom for India—instead of this shameful policy of Hitlerism in India, for which I accuse the right hon. Gentleman of being responsible—will lead to a great and wonderful development among the peoples of the world. Then the Atlantic Charter will be believed by the ordinary common men, and when the common men of the world begin to have faith in the sincerity of the British and American Governments, there will be the possibility of a quick victory and a really new order in days to come.
§ Colonel Oliver Stanley (Westmorland)
It is likely, I think, that the speech of the hon. Member for Camlachie (Mr. Stephen) will have been heard with interest in India, but although it may have been heard with interest I doubt whether it will have been heard with agreement. The hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton) made one of his usual delightful speeches, in 1417 which, when allowed to by interrupters, he referred once or twice to India. Hon. Members on this side, and in particular my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for India and the hon. and gallant Member for South East Essex (Flight-Lieutenant Raikes), who made such an admirable speech, dealt with Indian affairs as they are in reality and not through rosy spectacles. The hon. Member who last spoke referred to the demand of parties in India for independence, but he did not go on to say that they demanded independence on their own terms and that those terms are mutually inconsistent. He went on to suggest that the ideal Viceroy, the one who could really bring together all the different forces in India and reconcile warring personalities was Mr. Gandhi. I think I am right in saying that Mr. Gandhi will not speak to Mr. Jinnah and that Mr. Jinnah will not sit down in the same room as Mr. Gandhi, and I think that neither will sit at the same table as Dr. Ambedkar.
I must confess to the House that on the question of India I cannot speak as an expert. I do not say that by way of apology but merely as an explanation. I do not think it is necessary to be an expert on India in order to take part in this discussion. After all, we expect to be instructed by experts, and we hope to be guided by them. I regret to say we are occasonally bored by them. But in the long ran it is not the experts but outsiders like myself and others who have spoken and will speak in this Debate who have to come to a decision. It is just as well therefore that India should know what we think. I have always had the feeling—perhaps it may be wrong—that what is of interest to India or should be of interest to. India is the general attitude of the ordinary Member of the House of Commons. What does he really feel about India? On that depends what must be the most important question for India, whether the offer which has been made is sincerely made, whether we mean to stand by it in good times as in bad, and whether it is going to be implemented after victory.
I first came in contact with the Indian problem when, some years ago, I sat at the Round Table Conference. I confess that at that time I probably took a view considerably in advance of some members of my party, including some members 1418 who now hold high office, because as a result of what I learned then I came to the conclusion that in India we had reached the end of an era. I feel we have every reason to be proud of the past in India. The hon. Gentleman who spoke just now referred to things we had not done in regard to health, education and social services. That is quite true. We may not have done everything that could be done, but we have done something, and beyond that there are other things relating to the great fundamentals of life which have to be done before we can get improved health, higher standards of education and better social services. We gave India security of life, the rule of law, incorruptibility of government. Those are things which are so established here that they are taken for granted, but we have learned in the last year or two that, however well-established such things may look, they are fragile in reality. In a few hours millions of people who have enjoyed these things as a heritage for centuries have seen them go. Perhaps the best testimony to the success of our rule in India is the fact that a demand for self-government can be made and granted.
But although, as I say, I have every pride in the past, I recognise that the past has gone and that Indians have established by their ability, their training and their experience a right to self-government. It is a right which their self-respect makes them demand and which in the long run only our self interest could make us refuse. The problem is not whether the demand shall be granted but how and when it should be granted so as to mitigate the pains of such devolution, the pains which will be felt perhaps more acutely among the common people in India than among the rich in this country. I must confess that, even feeling as I did about it, the Declaration of the Government appeared to be almost staggering in its completeness. I wonder if the majority of people in this country or the majority of people abroad who are so ready with their advice are aware of the magnitude and importance of that offer—Dominion status, the withdrawal of Armed Forces, the abandonment of any privileged position for British individuals or interest after we have gone. Has there ever in the history of the world been an offer made of that character by one people to other people whom they 1419 have been ruling? Many Empires have disappeared in the past. They have been destroyed, rebellion has shorn them of some of their greatest provinces, but have you ever had before a people who voluntarily took the brightest jewel out of the Imperial Crown prepared to lay it on the altar of their ideals? I think it is just as well that that should be known in the world. In the memory of living men a great people refused to their own kith and kin the right to secede, and enforced their denial by force of arms.
We are often told of what America has done in the Philippines. I do not want for a moment to minimise the great work they have done there or the generosity of the offers that they made to those islands, but can you really put it upon the same plane as the offer we have now made, an offer which we made sincerely and which all parties will unite in implementing? The Philippines, after all, have been part of United States territory for 50 years. India has been part of our history for 300 years. The Philippines are perhaps even an economic drag on the United States, while India for years has been one of the foundations of our whole standard of life. Is there any district in the United States which is going to feel the economic effects of complete independence for the Philippines in the same way that my own people in Lancashire are going to feel in their own home9 the economic effect of the complete independence of India? I do not think you can really put the two offers on the same basis.
§ Mr. Benson (Chesterfield)
How will the independence of India affect the Lancashire cotton trade? For years India has had full power to tax Lancashire imports, and has done it.
§ Colonel Stanley
I shall be very glad if the hon. Member is right, but I fear that the inevitable result of the severance that is now suggested must be to a great extent the loss of some of the markets that we have had in India. It is only fair to say that the offer has been refused by almost all the large communities and parties in India. But they did not refuse it because we did not give them enough. There was not anything more that we could offer after the war. We offered the surrender of every right and every privilege that we had in India. It was because 1420 we were not prepared to give something at the expense of someone else. Could we really do less? I know it is the fashion to pretend that there is no such thing as a communal problem and that we can either argue that Congress speaks for everyone or that the Moslem League speaks for everyone, but is that not blinding our eyes to reality? Does not everyone who knows anything of India know that such a problem does exist in an acute form? I do not mean to say that it always must exist and that the time will not come when these differences will fall into their place in a broad, tolerant framework. In the Middle Ages in Europe we used to tear ourselves to pieces in the name of religious warfare, but Western Europe has progressed, and we now have to find new slogans to achieve the old results. I do not believe for a moment that if only Great Britain will clear out of India the communal difficulties which exist will settle themselves at once. I think they will become, temporarily at any rate, far more acute, because, as the hon. Gentleman himself pointed out, the only common ground on which these people meet now is to criticise us and to ask us to get out. When you remove even that common factor, I believe that the differences that exist will not become milder but far more acute.
§ Colonel Stanley
Realities are very unpleasant things. They have disastrous consequences. I would not condemn possibly millions of people into interminable civil war and confusion if there is any way of avoiding it. The Lord Privy Seal laid down only two things that had to he accepted, and beyond that everything was free for negotiation. The first was that there could not be during the war any great constitutional changes. Is that unreasonable? Does anyone pretend that when this great change takes place there is not bound to be a period of confusion, a period when effort is wasted, a period when people's minds are on other things, in fact just the kind of thing that you have to avoid when you are in the middle of a war and the enemy are actually at the gates? Only a few days ago we voted by a large majority that we could not have a General Election in time of war, when all that had to be 1421 decided was an opportunity for certain individuals to criticise the same Government in Debate and vote for the same Government in the Division Lobby. We could not even face that amount of disturbance in time of war. I understand that for 21 out of the 22 days that the Lord Privy Seal discussed this matter with the representatives of India the correctitude of that condition was never questioned and that it was not until the last day of all that it was called in question. The second condition that he laid down was that any alteration made in the Government during the war must secure the continuance of the defence of India. So long as we stay in India we have to be responsible for its defence. If anything went wrong, if Japan conquered India under the conditions envisaged by the hon. Member opposite, whom would the world blame? Whom would America, whom would Russia, blame? [An HON. MEMBER: "The Government."] The hon. Member is exactly right. He has given the answer I knew he would give. They would blame the British Government and the British Commander-in-Chief. They would not blame Mr. Gandhi or Mr. Nehru or the Indian Ministers. All the blame and all the responsibility would rest with us. As long as we have to take the blame and as long as we have the responsibility we must have the conditions under which we can carry it out.
The hon. Member talked about General MacArthur in Australia and the rights he has in that country. He is in a country, however, where there is a settled Government with a long history of administration. He is not in a country where it is proposed that in the middle of the operations he is carrying on from that base, there should be made a revolutionary change. It would be better to ask not about General MacArthur in Australia, but General MacArthur in the Philippines. I am not an authority on the Government of the Philippines, but I Should be Very surprised to hear that General MacArthur, as a prelude to his stand at Bataan, did not make sure that he had the power to see that the civil administration of that country fell into line with military requirements.
§ Mr. Maxton
The right hon. and gallant Gentleman should not choose the places on the map that suit him.
§ Colonel Stanley
The main place has been chosen for us—perhaps the hon. Gentleman did not realise it—before the Debate started. I cannot see that any more generous offer could have been made for the period during the war than that which has been made, short of complete independence for India now. That means not only independence for India now but isolation for India now. It means our walking out now, because we cannot go On in war-time taking the responsibility for that which we cannot control. If we walk out, who walks in? Are people going to stay a few miles over an imaginary border in Assam? What nonsense! As we walk Out, the vacuum we leave will be filled by the Japanese, those kindly folk, this tolerant race, this democratic, unselfish people who are going to give to the Indians the social services of which we have deprived them and who are going to relieve them of the exploitation which they have so long suffered from us. What humbug! [Interruption.] The right hon. Gentleman will answer for himself. Luckily I made certain before I made this speech that nobody could find another speech of mine on India, so that nobody can quote it against me.
There is this further point. When we made this Declaration We sent out the Lord Privy Seal to India. I differed very much from the right hon. and learned Gentleman in politics before the war. I have ho doubt I shall differ from him in politics after the war. It may be, of course, that I differ from him in politics at the moment, but if I do, I am not allowed to say so. That is the party truce. At any rate, at the time when political controversy was most acute, I had personal knowledge of the right hon. and learned Gentleman's political standards, and I had a personal reason for paying tribute to his integrity. He went out from this country, as he himself said, not to bargain, but to give. He did not go out first producing a little bit and then, as the argument became more fierce and the negotiations got more profound, giving a little bit more, as in the ordinary way of commercial negotiations. He went out to give, and I believe him when he says that he put all his cards on the table at once and did not keep a little trump up his sleeve. To believe after that that you can now look in the box and pull out some new conception is to make 1423 nonsense and humbug of the whole of that Mission and everything that the right hon. and learned Gentleman said.
§ Colonel Stanley
The hon. Gentleman is no doubt his own judge of what humbug is. That would have convicted the right hon. and learned Gentleman of dishonesty, and I am not prepared to do that.
We have had reference to-day to what happened since that offer was made. I do not think it is profitable to argue about the intentions of this man and that, the sanctity of this figure or that, or to know, like the Bishop of Birmingham, whether Gandhi is a saint and must, therefore, obviously take precedence of what he describes as cheap Asiatics. Whatever the intentions of these people, however spiritual they may have been, the result of them has been disastrously mundane. Gandhi may have been surprised. If so, he has not been surprised for the first time that this spiritual doctrine of non-co-operation has led inevitably, as it did before, to violence. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Camlachie, who belongs to the only party which sees things through coloured spectacles, told us something about that violence. He told us something about flogging and shooting with machine guns. He did not tell us anything about throwing policemen on to burning police stations, or anything about young Air Force officers travelling on a train, who had no connection with disorder at all, being torn to pieces by the mob. It looks to me as if the hon. Gentleman has a pair of one-way spectacles. Whatever we may feel about it, whatever may be our hope for the future, I do not believe that any Government can afford to give way to actions of that kind.
§ Mr. Stephen
Does the right hon. and gallant Gentleman wish to approve of the action of the Indian Government in machine-gunning these people? At a time of riot things happen, and I take it that he would not expect me, in making my case to-day, to go into the cases of the policemen, and so on.
§ Colonel Stanley
I am not certain of the point of the hon. Gentleman's interruption, but I will say this, that there 1424 is an almost irresistible temptation, which he has not perhaps been in a position to experience, if somebody shoots at you, to shoot back. No Government can give way to this sort of thing that is going on. It is not only the cause for which all the United Nations are fighting which depends on this chaos being put an end to; it is not only the security of the millions of Indian people who are taking no part in these disorders, but the future of India depends on it. I cannot believe that political chaos of this kind is the right stuff on which to build the India of the future. It is all very well to use this weapon against us, but is there not a great danger that if it were successful against us, it might become the common coin of Indian political currency?
It is in this atmosphere that the British Government are now being urged to take the initiative. I read with great interest a leader in "The Times" of, I think, the day before yesterday. It was up to the best standard of "The Times." It was unequalled in clarity of language and obscurity of meaning. It always makes me feel that in some way or other Geoffrey Dawson must have been descended from the Delphic Oracle. [HON. MEMBERS: "He is not there now."] I know he is not there, but the great merit of "The Times" is "Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose." In that leader we were told that the Government must take the initiative, but they did not even go as far as the hon. Member for Camlachie in suggesting what that should be. He did at any rate tell us about Gandhi as Viceroy. I should like to feel, as everybody must feel, who allows something for the sense of frustration about India, that we could all of us decide something realistic, something possible, that could be done; but do not let us just go on saying that something must be done when we have not the least idea of what and how to do it, because that must lead to inevitable disaster.
Is it not about time we talked about somebody else doing something? Has the tremendous advance which has been made by this country in the last few months been equalled by any similar advance, or any advance at all, by the leaders of Indian opinion, and is it not time that we said they must take the initiative, that they must do something? I do not believe that we can go further than the Government has offered sincerely to go, and says it is 1425 still prepared to go, without complete abdication. What the majority in this House is asking is agreement but it takes two parties to make an agreement, although it takes only one to surrender.
Dark as the outlook may be at the moment, I refuse to surrender hope, because I believe that India eventually will throw up people who may be just as popular, just as vigorous, just as determined and just as anxious for India's future as those who now lead some of the parties there, but who will be more realistic in their outlook and more longsighted. I remember the India Round Table Conference of 12 years ago. Nearly all the figures who have now attained to political positions in India were there, taking part, and with the insolence of comparative youth I thought then that they were old men, but they are 12 years older to-day. There must be somewhere in India younger men who are not so tied to all the fights, all the history of the disputes, of the past, and, above all, men who can look beyond the objective which has for so long been the only thought of those people that they cannot see beyond it, who can look beyond the objective of getting self-government or independence and look to the India which they will have to build afterwards. Because this is not like a play. The curtain will not come down at the end of the third act, when self-government is granted. That will not be the end, but the beginning, and someone has got to start building for the future, and not to think only of how they can get rid of us or what scores they can make off our Government.
I believe that time will come. I believe it will come probably sooner than we expect. I am perfectly certain that the offer which has been made must stand. The sincerity with which we made it must not be questioned. It is up to hon. Members of all parties in this House to throw back upon the hon. Gentleman statements which can only have been made with the intention to damage the effect of this Declaration and the sincerity with which it has been made. But we cannot compromise with disorder. We have to re-establish conditions under which life can go on. Finally, we have to go on, whatever the difficulty, with our primary task of defending India, because although it is very easy for Congress in Session, guarded as it then was—and guarded, in a different way, as it now is—by British 1426 arms, to talk in this airy way about Japan there is going to be fought out in India in the next few months a battle which will decide India's future for many a century, and which, if it goes the wrong way, may put an end for 150 years to discussions about India's freedom when it falls under the heel of a dictatorship far more efficient, far more cruel and far more prejudiced than any which it has yet experienced.
§ Mr. Graham White (Birkenhead, East)
My right hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Westmorland (Colonel Stanley) began his speech by saying that he had never before made a speech about India. After hearing that speech, it is rather difficult to realise that that was the case. My own experience in connection with Indian affairs started at about the same time as his own. We were both members of the Indian Round Table Conference. He has never made a speech on India, he tells us, and having heard him I wish I had followed the same course which he has pursued consistently for all these years. It is my intention now to go into, not the past history of India, but only its very recent history, and to make one or two observations on the present situation in the hope that at least I shall say nothing which will embitter it as it is my ambition to say nothing that will not be helpful and perhaps constructive. I am entirely in agreement with what my right hon. and gallant Friend said that on 8th August the Government of India, having regard to the situation which had then developed, when everything had run off the lines, had no alternative but to follow the course of action which it took for the purpose of preserving the basis upon which the defence of India rested, and indeed of preserving for India the opportunity of taking an honourable part with the Allied nations in the common cause. I could not be more in agreement than I am with what has been said here to-day about the possibility of granting the establishment of independent national government in India, which could only have the effect, as I read the situation, of splitting India into fragments and provoking civil discord on the scale of civil war.
To-day the Secretary of State repeated and underlined the offer for complete freedom which was conveyed by the Lord 1427 Privy Seal. I am glad he took the opportunity of re-affirming that offer. One of the fundamental troubles in this matter is that words have ceased to have any effective meaning. About nine-tenths of the troubles of the existing situation are caused by Indians not believing that we mean what we say, or that there is any trust to be placed in what we say. I say so with great regret, especially as this feeling seems' to have grown. During the last few weeks, cables from India, discussions in the Legislative Councils and what one reads in the American Press, have given great concern to those who see that, so far from that feeling having diminished since the Prime Minister made his statement in the House a short time ago, it is increasing. I notice for example that the correspondent of the "New York Times" said:Many are distrustful of British promises. They are convinced that the British have no intention of offering India freedom after the war. This is one of the fundamentals of the Indian situation and unless it is understood it is impossible to make any sense of what is happening.That is a deplorable situation if it is true and the question is, What are we to do about it? I think it is a most lamentable thing that we have been unable to persuade India that our honour is irrevocably bound up with carrying out those pledges and fulfilling the policy we have been pursuing. I do not think words of criticism are helpful at this moment, but it is lamentable that Indians do not appear to realise that our whole individual and collective honour is bound up in carrying this through. The Indian leaders are a proud people. They are proud and rightly proud of their ancient descent, their ancient culture and civilization. If I were to speak to any of my friends in India, and I am proud to say I have a number in all sections, I would ask them: Is it too much to concede to us in the matter of honour the same standard you claim for yourselves? There are the proposals which the Lord Privy Seal took with him to India and previous statements by the Secretary of State on many occasions. If we went back on those we should not be able to look Indians in the face again. In fact, we could not look each other in the face again. Our whole honour is involved, and if these were my last words to any of my Indian friends, they would be, 1428 "Try to concede to us the same standard of honour as you would claim for yourselves."
I would make this observation; I do not think it is enough simply to stand on the broad principles and take up a defensive attitude. I am certain that initiative will have to be displayed. I feel sure there is no solution which can be produced at this moment and which will act as a complete solution of the difficulties with which we are faced. There is a ferment in India. In fact, every organised party in India is seeking, in some way to reach a solution. When it is suggested that we should negotiate; it is not specified with whom the Government are to negotiate or what they are to negotiate about. I am glad that there has been no personal criticism here to-day of Mr. Gandhi on the lines which appeared in some sections of our Press, namely, that he was a quisling who was in touch with the Japanese. That suggestion has been made. I do not believe it for a moment. I have studied all the evidence which is available to me and I dismiss that idea. There is one fact about India to-day which is important. Mr. Gandhi, speaking on 8th August, in announcing this campaign of civil disobedience, said that this was his last campaign. I share the views of General Smuts with regard to Mr. Gandhi. I am not one of those who would dismiss his enigmatic utterances as being the vapourings of a visionary because there does lie behind them a conception of spiritual conduct to which in any normal and sane world we might be glad to aspire. The answer to Mr. Gandhi at the present time is that with the whole issue of civilisation in the future at stake, when there is more physical force available for destruction in the world than at any other time—especially so since the conquest of the air—what has to be done is to prevent that overwhelming physical force falling into the hands of the wicked men who are now trying to seize it. If that cannot be done there is no future for mankind in India or elsewhere. That is the answer to views which in another and different world would have some meaning.
The criticism of Mr. Gandhi, and I think my right hon. and gallant Friend has touched upon it, is that on every occasion when this doctrine of civil disobedience and non-violence has been launched, it has been followed by violence 1429 of the most horrible description. When Mr. Gandhi spoke on 8th August he had this knowledge clearly in his mind and gave warnings against it. On an earlier occasion when he had launched a campaign of non-violence and civil disobedience he said, "I have made a mistake of Himalayan dimensions." Yet having made that mistake of Himalayan immensity—for which he imposed a heavy penance upon himself—with that knowledge he has launched a campaign which has had consequences which he, Mr. Gandhi, and everybody else with any human feelings must deplore. On this occasion as on every other occasion when one of these campaigns has been launched Congress has not been unanimous. I think I remember the Lord Privy Seal saying that Congress, with the exception of Mr. Gandhi and a few others, would have been in favour of his proposal. Whether that is so or not, it is clear there is a very substantial party in Congress, possibly even a majority, who do not favour the views of the extremists.
I would repeat what I said that a policy of maintaining the proposals which were taken out to India by my right hon. Friend and doing nothing but maintaining absolute inactivity will not touch at any single point the fundamental political difficulties of India. It is no good criticising that aspect of the matter without saying what can be done or what ought to be done. Negotiations may be difficult; they may be impossible. I think very likely they are; possibly they ought not to be undertaken but there is all the difference between opening negotiations and refusing to co-operate with and help actively—which I do not see being done—every one of those single elements in India which is seeking for agreement with regard to the future. My right hon. and gallant Friend who preceded me spoke, somewhat slightingly perhaps, about, "The Times" recent article. I do not see any reason why "The Times" should not change. In fact I believe it has experienced something in the nature of an illumination in recent years but it is not only "The Times" which has suggested that the Viceroy's Executive Council should be completely Indianised. I think there are very strong arguments for looking very carefully at that proposition. I do not for a moment say it would satisfy all the demands being made.
§ Colonel Stanley
Surely that was implicit in the original declaration. It is one of the things which have been refused.
§ Mr. White
I think the right hon. and gallant Gentleman is quite right, but I was addressing myself to what might be done now. I am not sure whether that matter has been discussed independently. The freedom we have offered to India is complete and unqualified. Any request for the complete Indianisation of the Viceroy's Executive Council being put forward and argued about is something which might help very materially in the situation. I am not sure myself whether it would do so or not but I think it would probably give satisfaction to a certain number of Indians. If we are determined merely to pursue a policy of masterly inactivity the situation will inevitably deteriorate. In fact it has deteriorated in the last few days. It has certainly deteriorated from the point of view of opinion in America. When the Lord Privy Seal took his proposals to India, American opinion which had been highly critical and at times unfriendly, veered round to us and continued to do so when the proposals were refused. But the voice of criticism is being heard again in a very acid way, not only in words but in cartoons, and if the Government are really thinking that all they have to do is to stand firm and maintain order—a duty with regard to which everyone in this country stands with them—I am afraid they are making a very serious mistake,
If only we had a little more imagination, perhaps in taking some practical steps. We say that we are going to give freedom to India when she asks; she can take it on her own agreed terms. Let us cast around and see whether there are any steps we can take to convert them to that view. If we are preparing to hand over power it cannot be supposed that there are sufficient trained personnel in India to run the services there. Has any suggestion been made to Indians that there should now be set on foot a great scheme of training of personnel for the various technical and other services which will be required? Why not put forward some such scheme as that? Let scope be offered for training in the Dominions, in the United States, even in this country if they wish it. There are many things which imagination and good will could, I am sure, set on foot to remove that profound 1431 mistrust which is at the bottom of most of our difficulties.
I have already spoken longer than I intended but I also wish to ask whether, within the terms of the existing constitution, we have exhausted all the possibilities? Why should we not consider, for example, the possibility of working on the lines of developments in this country since the war. It has been the complaint against many sections of Indian opinion that they have constantly refused any invitation to serve on the Executive Council. They have refused consistently to serve on a body of that kind. One reason for that has been the implications about difficulties of the number of seats to be allotted. We have no difficulty of that kind in this country with regard to our War Council. I would like to know whether any consideration has been given to setting up in India, within the existing constitution, without even disturbing the portfolios as they exist to-day, a War Council, not of an executive character but of a purely policy devising and steering character consisting solely of Indians without regard to any particular basis of constitution. A body of that kind might well devote its attention to the revision of the opting-out clause in the Cripps proposals. I know that these stand but the offer has been refused for a variety of quite contradictory reasons, many derived from the opting-out clause. I would suggest that if we had a superior Indian Council, on the lines of a War Council as we have here to-day, it might begin to devote itself to consideration of the possible regrouping of the territorial divisions of India on the basis of religious, racial and linguistic considerations because it seems that in any possible future development of India, self-determination for some territories may well have some part in it. If that is to be the case, I think it is quite clear a more realistic principle which might work in a federal co-operation, might well be devised within the limits of what we can do at the present time.
It is not enough to stand pat. The situation will certainly deteriorate if we do that. I am glad to think, if I may say so without disrespect, and without depreciating the very great services which have been rendered by the Viceroy, that his time to be relieved from the terrible 1432 burden that he has borne so long and with so much distinction, has nearly come. It is time for the Indian problem to have new minds applied to it. Five years is a long time to be Viceroy, even in ordinary circumstances; and seven years is too long. It is probably true of most men in any situation that if they have a contribution to make to a problem they can show it in five years. It is time that the burden was lifted from the shoulders of the Viceroy, to whom we are grateful to the contribution he has made. I have spoken here to-day as a British Liberal in the hope that my words, specially those about our honour, may be sympathetically heard in India.
§ Mr. Silverman
On a point of Order. This Debate has been going on for a little more than three hours. In that time no Member from these benches has been called, and it can be seen from the Order Paper that a number of Members on these benches have a particular point of view to express. It is now within half-an-hour of the time when the concluding speeches must commence. I wonder whether there is any way in which the time available for debate can be extended, so as to give those Members who have waited so long, an opportunity to be heard. Most of those speeches which have been delivered have been unusually long, even for ex-Cabinet Ministers.
§ Mr. Cove (Aberavon)
We have listened to a series of exhaustive and interesting speeches, none of which, probably, has been more exhaustive and interesting than that delivered by the right hon. and gallant Member for Westmorland (Colonel Stanley). I remember when he made his early reputation in this House. He entertained us on one occasion, very brilliantly, when moving the Address in reply to the Speech from the Throne. To-day he gave us the same kind of speech. It had all the atmosphere of an after-dinner speech, but it bore little relevance to the grim realities of the situation, which is full of difficulties and full of menace, not only to Indian independence, not only to the British Empire, but to the national unity of this country. The speech of the right hon. Gentleman in opening the Debate did nothing to sweeten the atmosphere and to help us to get out of the difficulties which now confront us. I can understand the right hon. Gentleman: he is the arch-Imperialist. While 1433 he was speaking there came vividly before my mind—though I have not the quotations here—the speech which the right hon. Gentleman made in this House justifying Japanese aggression against Manchuria. If I am wrong, I will apologise in this House, but I am certain my memory is right. I remember that he said we could not justify ourselves in Egypt and elsewhere if we were to condemn the aggression of Japan in Manchuria. I can understand his making that speech, but I cannot understand the Deputy Prime Minister giving his name and assent to the statement made by the Prime Minister, which was full of disappointment, full of tragedy, both for India and for this country.
I could traverse many of the statements which have been made to-day, and argue about them, but that would not alter the problem which confronts us. What I want to know is, what are the Government going to do about the situation? The speech of the right hon. Gentleman seemed to suggest that the Government were going to do nothing. I would question even whether the offer that the Lord Privy Seal took out to India now stands. [An HON. MEMBER: "The Secretary of State said so to-day."] I know, but the Government speak with so many voices. As far as I can judge, the Government just take this position: "Here is a situation in India where turmoil exists, where we have to exert force, where we have had to use some of the methods Hitler has used in order to keep these people down." In that situation the Government seem to sit still and let events control them, instead of trying to control events. How can the Government pursue two different policies at the same time? What hope is there of conciliation on the one hand, and of pursuing, on the other hand, a policy of rigorous oppression? What hope is there of getting together a consensus of organised opinion when the Congress leaders are under lock and key?
§ Mr. Cove
That is just the die-hard, bitter, Tory Imperialism which, ironically enough, is going to lose us the British Empire. One of the historic ironies of our time is that under the leadership of an Imperialist Prime Minister we are losing our Empire. You have already lost 1434 India. You have already lost the soul of India. The "Manchester Guardian" pointed out this morning the very important fact that in the last month or so, while certain things were happening and while we may be getting control of affairs, political differences between this nation and India are widening. The gulf is getting bigger, and while that gulf is getting bigger, I assert definitely, without any fear of contradiction, that the Tories are losing us the British Empire. You cannot have repression on the one hand and pursue a policy of negotiation on the other. Let us be frank. I do not want to occupy the time of the House for more than five minutes more as I know that long speeches are not liked. I am going to be quite frank, but I am not going into any details of how to solve this problem. [Interruption.] I am prepared to do it on another occasion, but let us lay down some broad principles, something that we may be able to do.
We can get the Congress leaders out of gaol. We can free them, because unless we free the Congress leaders there is not the slightest hope of conciliation and settlement in India. You may boost Mr. Jinnah and say what a clever man he is. I was reading some pamphlets yesterday on Pakistan, and he was described as the "Baboon of Bombay." A wonderful man, Mr. Jinnah, the man behind whom the Government like to hide and keep their reactionary policy. I ask the Government to show me where Mr. Jinnah has co-operated with us in this war. What has he done to strengthen us in India, to get us recruits and to develop the war spirit on our side in India? What has he done? Nothing. He is hiding behind Pakistan's masterly inactivity, with the British Government behind him covering their own reactionary policy. I repeat that it is quite useless for the Government to think they can move a step forward unless they release these men. I will be frank again. One might as well be blunt and frank about these things. It is no use trying to get a settlement on what might come in the future. We say we promised them freedom and Dominion status and all that. We say we are sincere about it, but the Government must accede to the transference of real power to a national Government in India before we can go a step forward. That is not really the demand of Congress. It is the demand of every party I have tried to follow in 1435 India, except Mr. Jinnah. There is some evidence of wobbling on the part of Mr. Jinnah. I am not so sure about it, and I have tried to read everything I can get hold of as to what he has said, but it is clear that the basic demand in India from all quarters is for the recognition now of the real transference of power from this country to an Indian national Government.
§ Mr. Cove
If the hon. and gallant Gentleman would like to know something about the Princes, I would recommend him to read part of the very able book which I have read written by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Walsall (Sir G. Schuster). Had time not been so short I would have quoted from it, but the hon. and gallant Gentleman will find something very interesting about the Princes there and why we support the Princes. [An HON. MEMBER: "Read it."] We are supporting the Princes because the Princes support us. It says:When we assumed the obligation of protecting them in the 18th and early 19th Centuries, this meant protection against rival potentates. In the present century it has come to mean protection against the popular movements for their overthrow which may be organised in British India by the nationalist parties.
§ Sir George Schuster (Walsall)
Since the hon. Member has done me the honour to quote from the book perhaps he will allow me to point out that he is reading from a portion of the book which I did not write.
§ Mr. Sorensen (Leyton, West)
May I ask whether the hon. Gentleman the Member for Walsall (Sir G. Schuster) repudiates that statement by Mr. Guy Wint?
§ Sir G. Schuster
I am not called upon to repudiate it. I merely said that I was not the author of it. I say at the beginning that I do not agree with all the things 1436 expressed in the part of the book I did not write.
§ Mr. Cove
In any case it is a very excellent book, and I would advise hon. Members to read it. The transference of power is essential. The question of negotiation, having admitted that principle, as to how that can be brought into effect is the problem for statesmanship. But the point is that India wants the principle of a transferred power. I wish hon. Friends would study the matter and examine it closely. It is not true to say that the Indian Congress has been ready to succumb to Japan. It is a lie to say that the people whom Congress represents are willing to bow the knee to the aggressor. Congress makes a stand against every aggressor; Congress makes a stand all the time—after debate, I agree—against the Japanese aggressor and, indeed, against us. But they do not say to us, "Clear out." They have never said that. What Congress has said is, "You must admit the principle of a National Government as far as we are concerned. That is our basis." Having admitted that basis, the transference of power, then Congress has said, "We are willing to defend our independence in India not only as an Indian matter but as part and parcel of the world fight against the aggressor." But the Government are not prepared to have these people in. Look at the Prime Minister's statement the other day, with its faith in the martial races. That means a fear to democratise the Indian Army. What is the use of telling these people after all these years that they are to have Dominion status and independence in the future? The real test for them is now. The real heart of the problem is to pass over to the Indian people, to a representative Indian National Government, the essence of power and the control of the Army, because they know that not only during the war but when the war ends the power that controls the Army in India will be the power that will determine the destiny of India. Are the Government now prepared to recognise an Indian National Government and pass power over to them?
Mention has been made of the effect on American opinion. It is true that progressive American opinion has been disturbed and even shocked and that not even the articles and broadcasts going from this country have had any effect. 1437 America is still disturbed, but I want to put a different point from that before I sit down. It is this: Besides the America that fought for American independence there is another America. There is the America of Wall Street, of high finance and of General Motors, and the America of high finance and General Motors is already in India. If you maintain India within the ambit, if you like, of the British Empire, I ask my Conservative friends, "Will you really have maintained India?" At this moment, one of the greatest periods in history, power is passing from us to another great nation because we are not ready to march in line with the real progressive forces of the world. Do what you will, you cannot stop the resurgent nationalism that is now awakening in India. I saw the name of my right hon. and learned Friend the Lord Privy Seal in connection with a meeting in praise of China. We appreciate the surging nationalism in China. It is having an effect in India, and it will not die down. You cannot repress it; it is too powerful, too dynamic. I say to my friends on the Labour benches, "Let us help these poor, poverty-stricken Indians," because, make no mistake, they are poor. Their average span of life is 25 years, only 8 per cent. of their people are literate, they live in filthy, stinking houses and their health services are beyond description.
I ask my Friends on this side to say with me not that the granting of independence will solve these problems at the moment—they will still be there—but to say that before the poor down-trodden, poverty-stricken masses of India can arrive at their economic and social emancipation we must lift the burden that we have imposed upon them. Granting independence will not bring economic and social salvation to India at once, but it is the pre-condition which is necessary for that to happen. Congress, I know, is composed of poor and rich; it is a conglomeration of people of varying opinions and states of life. Grant independence, and I am quite sure that the character of Congress will change and will resolve itself into the real social needs of India.
I am glad to think that a Division is to be taken to-day, because there has been revealed to me the purpose which some have had about this war. Is your purpose to kill Hitlerism or merely to defend 1438 the British Empire? The spirit of some of the speeches to-day and the Prime Minister's recent announcement make me and other people suspicious that the declared aim and object are not to fight this war for freedom, nationality and independence, but, as is shown in your policy towards India, to defend the British Empire. I warn you that by pursuing that spirit and policy you will make the doom of your Empire certain.
§ Sir Ralph Glyn (Abingdon)
I think we owe a debt of gratitude to the hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton) for enabling a Division to be taken on this most important matter to-day. Nothing does more harm than speeches of hon. Members—sincere, no doubt, but not often understood in India—unless there is a corrective Division. The hon. Member for Aberavon (Mr. Cove) appeared to think that we on this side are not anxious to have a Division. The contrary is the case; we must have a Division. There is one point to which I want to draw the attention of hon. Members, and it is the inescapable responsibility which we in this House have for the affairs of India. That is a most solemn thought, and we should have it in our minds in any discussion on India. I have listened to all the Debate. Not a word has been said about the loyalty of Indians. Not a word has been said about the Fifth Indian Division, which won Abyssinia. Not a word has been said about the Royal Indian Navy, which has expanded twenty times—the men who are protecting our food supplies across the Atlantic. The talk has been about politicians. I beg hon. Members to realise that India does not consist only of Congress politicians. There are millions of simple souls in India who believe in the British Raj and used to believe in the House of Commons. Each one, of those speeches to which I have referred disrupts confidence, each one of those speeches is derogatory to our honour, and does infinite harm in India.
I listened to the speech of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for India. If there is any man who can speak more clearly, I should like to meet him. How can any hon. Member doubt for a single moment that what was said by the Secretary of State was a repetition of the solemn pledge that we have given? This was admitted by the hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton), who moved the 1439 Amendment. My right hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Westmorland (Colonel Stanley) said that this is a matter of honour; and, indeed, it is a matter of honour. For that reason, if for no other, I want to see India independent. I do not believe this House, under our present democratic system, is capable or worthy of being responsible for India. It is high time India had her independence; but in giving her independence, why always talk about our enemies and never mention our friends? There is something now which is really more urgent than anything in our political history.
§ Mr. Vernon Bartlett (Bridgwater)
The hon. Gentleman has made a statement which might give rise to misapprehensions. He said that he does not believe that under our democratic system we are worthy to govern India. I am sure he did not mean to give the impression that statement might give. Perhaps he will elaborate it a little so as to explain what he meant.
§ Sir R. Glyn
I feel that under our present system we give way too much to sentiment and sentimentality, and without knowledge, but with wishful thinking, attempt to govern a country which is as large as Europe and far more complex. I do not believe India occupies a sufficient place in our lives in this House, and certainly not in the constituencies. Therefore, I shall welcome the time when India is independent, but I do not believe for one moment that it will be only Congress that will make India great and powerful; obviously, it will be the whole mass of Indians of every race and creed who wish to remain within the ambit of the British Commonwealth of Nations.
The Round Table Conference has been mentioned. I was in the House first in the 1918 Parliament, and I recollect that after the Montagu-Chelmsford scheme there was a Joint Standing Committee of both Houses to deal with Indian affairs. The Noble Lord the Member for Horsham (Earl Winterton) was a Member of it. That Joint Standing Committee had a very useful part to play in keeping contact between India and Parliament here. I hope the Government will consider the possibility of again setting up that authority, which I believe did a great deal of good. Present conditions make me feel 1440 that there is plenty of room for improvement in keeping hon. Members, including myself, up to date concerning the actual position in India.
When the Prime Minister made his speech in the House on 10th September, there were those who, while agreeing with the matter, disagreed with the manner. It may be that that speech has been misrepresented in India in some ways, but I beg hon. Members to recognise that in this crisis in India, when our troops are facing the enemy, when there has been sabotage, when there has been the cutting of communications, when every sort of thing has jeopardised the position of our troops and Indian troops, it is a time for firm government. At no other time, perhaps, can one say that one must be absolutely firm, but when one is faced with a situation of that kind, surely there can be do doubt in the mind of any hon. Member. Mr. Gandhi is certainly not in close confinement, and from answers that have been given to hon. Members by the Secretary of State for War, I doubt very much whether there is anything to prevent him and his friends from using their influence to stop any further rioting or trouble. Therefore, I think there might very well be issued a proclamation saying that if there is any more murder of British officers or loyal Indian police, Mr. Gandhi and his friends will not remain where they are, but will be deported from India. I do not believe we can play with this situation. I believe Mr. Gandhi is perfectly sincere by his lights, but he is becoming a very old man, and we know that in India there are always a certain number of people who are only anxious to rob and riot, and so on, and the task of the police is never easy. If the police do not have behind them the support of the Government, and if the Government do not have the support of this House, the blood of police officers is on our heads. What has been happening has been a definite conspiracy, because in two cases attacks were made by men having Congress banners. No doubt Congress may have been unfairly used by their enemies, but certainly they have been used for a cloak. It has been extremely difficult for the Indian Government to stand up to these actions.
There is another thing that has not been said in the House, and I intend to say it. I interpret the giving of independence 1441 to India as meaning the giving of independence on lines that will not be dishonourable to us. We have made treaties with the Indian Princes. It is the fashion for some people to sneer at some of the Indian Princes, but perhaps those people have not been to India and seen what has been done in some of the Principalities and States. I have. It is entirely wrong to assume that they are backward. The fact is that they are becoming more progressive and better, in housing, health and the social services, than many parts of British India. That is the truth. The Crown has treaties with those States, and if we are to dishonour those treaties, then no good can come out of anything we do in India.
I believe the time has come for us to increase the Indian personnel of the Viceroy's Council. At the present time there are 15 members, including the Commander-in-Chief. There are three British and 11 Indian members, and the positions held by the British members are key positions. I am certain that there ought to be in those positions Indians as well as British. I have talked with some of these people, and I know that frequently something arises in the Viceroy's Council on which perhaps both Indian sides are in disagreement, and it is no bad thing to have three British members who can try to be a sort of lightning conductor to the storm. There are, after all, a great many British interests in India. I think there is room for Indians to occupy those three posts together with the three British members, and I would like to see that done.
Finally, there is this point. I am sure hon. Members realise that the Commander-in-Chief in India to-day, General Wavell, has a tremendous task, for which we hold him responsible, because ultimately the sovereign power rests on this House. I believe that there must be a settlement, but it will not come by the House of Commons making up to the enemies of this country. It will come by our showing that India shall have what the Lord Privy Seal has promised. But do let us remember our friends in time of war. Stand by the Indian Army, stand by the Indian Civil Service, and remember, when hon. Members talk about Gandhi being locked up—he is not locked up but in a luxurious house—that the order for doing it was given by Indians, not by British, because they have a sense 1442 of government. Their action shows courage. Let us in this House be equally courageous.
§ Mr. Arthur Greenwood (Wakefield)
The hon. Member for Abingdon (Sir R. Glyn) said he welcomed the Division which is to be taken. Personally, I would welcome a Division on the real issue, but I am afraid that the Division which is to take place is not on the real issue. So far as the Government policy with regard to India is concerned I have said twice in this House that that meets with the approval of the British Labour movement. Therefore, I am not quarrelling on policy at all. It is unfortunate that there was a breakdown. It is unfortunate, in my view, that that breakdown should have been allowed to continue as a breakdown for so long and no constructive action has been taken by us. I am not asking that new terms should be put forward by us. I am not suggesting that we should tolerate a civil disobedience movement, which would be a stab in the back should the Japanese cross the frontier. But one does feel that although we have made a magnificent series of proposals and although the Indian people have their responsibilities, we also have our responsibilities.
When we debated the question of India on the last occasion I criticised the Prime Minister's statement on the following day and said that I thought it would have a prejudicial effect in India and in America. Events have proved that what I said was true. That statement was received in the United States with a certain sadness and consternation. In India, Indian leaders said, "If this is going to be the attitude, Britain will lose all the friends she has left in India," and God help us if we do in this time of peril. Therefore I feel myself that we cannot continue this attitude of passivity. The right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for India, in the first part of his speech, spoke words which seemed to me as if they were going to undo a great deal of the terms of the Prime Minister's statement a fortnight or so ago, but when he got to the middle of his speech there was this perpetual insistence on the attitude of the Congress Party and the imperfections of everybody else in India. I repeat that I am no Congress man. I am not a supporter of the Congress Party, and I do not suppose I shall ever be, but in times of stress and danger like 1443 this for the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State to repeat statements which can do no good but will certainly embitter relations is going to make the situation well-nigh intolerable. The right hon. Gentleman says the real difficulty lies with the Congress Party. I believe that to be so myself, but it does not make a solution any easier—it makes it almost impossible—if statements made in this House are always critical of the Congress Party, who, as I say, are no friends of mine.
§ Miss Rathbone
Is not that an almost inevitable reaction from the fact that on this side of the House above the Gangway, as the right hon. Gentleman knows, speakers always ignore the virtues of other parties?
§ Mr. Greenwood
Hon. Members who speak from this side of the House may or may not represent the views of the party, but I am stating the views of the majority.
§ Mr. Maxton
If the right hon. Gentlemen will cast his memory back, he will remember that his party in the past has declared for the support of Congress.
§ Mr. Greenwood
I have not the time or the need to rake up the past. Towards the end of the right hon. Gentleman's speech I had hoped that he would have said something which might have been helpful to those of us who desire to see this deadlock broken. He did say the door was open. Which door I did not know until I peeped through it, and I found it was an empty cupboard, because the right hon. Gentleman had nothing to say except to insist that things were as they were. In view of the situation which is admitted, and accepting as I do that there is no call for a new policy, is it not right, because of all that is at stake, that His Majesty's Government should be prepared to do a big thing in a great cause? It does not mean losing one's dignity to say, "Let us begin to talk again." To lose any section of Indian opinion, whether Moslem or Hindu, would create trouble for us should war cross the frontiers into the sub-continent of India. I have no special sources of information open to me, but, so far as I can gather, there are leaders and prominent men in all sections of Indian life who feel that this deadlock is something which is unfortunate. It may be that they 1444 have no suggestion to make at present for a way out. There are some crude ones to which the right hon. Gentleman referred, but the fact that there are elements of Indian life which want to find a way out ought to persuade the British Government to inspire the Indian Government to take some constructive action.
§ Mr. Greenwood
I do not want to go into the technicalities of the Amendment. On 19th May I said, dealing with that situation:It now becomes more urgent and more imperative to forge the links of real understanding between us and India so as to maximise our fighting powers in that theatre of war and in that part of the world. I ask the Government, therefore, whether they cannot, in the grave circumstances with which India, Britain and the United Nations are faced, try anew to come to terms with the Indian peoples, for in this way alone can we inspire India with hopes for the future. I fully appreciate how great the difficulties are and how formidable are the lions that stand in the path. I most earnestly appeal to the Government to make a final effort at settlement, so that India shall not enter the war where she must fight for her own protection in a spirit of bitterness, and so that it cannot be charged against us in the future that on the eve of India's greatest trial we did not seek reconciliation and agreement with our Allies."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 19th May, 1942; col. 69, Vol. 380.]I made an appeal, which I believe was widely printed in the Indian Press, to the Indian people. By that I still stand. I think it would be a blot on our honour, it would be a blot on our signature to the Atlantic Charter, if we were to leave any stone unturned which might help this grave and tragic and deepeningly difficult situation. There have been suggestions as to what should be done. No long-term policy is going to settle the situation now. I believe that no British Government in the future will be able to escape from the pledges that have been given, and certainly my party will not allow them to escape. Indeed we should forfeit the confidence and the respect of all the United Nations were we to try to do so. I wish the Indian people to believe me when I say I do not believe there will be an attempt to wriggle out of these undertakings so seriously given, but we must convince the Indian communities that we are in earnest, that we are generous-hearted and large spirited in this business, and I do not see how we can do it by 1445 saying there is a door to an empty chamber open. I think, when there are people in India who speak with authority for a very large proportion of the people of India, who are prepared to sit round the table and talk, although there are those who do not wish to do it, the responsibility lies on us to keep the friendship and the good will of those who would.
§ The Deputy Prime Minister (Mr. Attlee)
I gladly respond to the note that was struck by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wakefield (Mr. Greenwood) in his speech. We all want to get a settlement of the Indian question. We must, however, face this problem in a spirit of realism, understanding that it is the problem of a continent, and an extraordinarily difficult problem. It is very easy to get a knowledge of only one facet of the Indian problem and then to make a speech characterised with great emotion, great fervour and great sincerity which nevertheless ignores the fact that this Indian Koh-i-noor diamond has a great many facets. The hon. Member for Aberavon (Mr. Cove) did that. He put the Congress case and did it with a great deal of assurance. It has been my lot to have taken part in many Indian inquiries over many years from 1927 onwards. I do not claim in the least to know India. I know only a little, but I do know how great are the difficulties. In the course of these inquiries I have gained a great affection for India. I have the friendship of many Indians, and I have met Indians, some of whom are under detention to-day and others of whom are free, with whom I have been on the closest terms of friendship, and am to-day.
We do not approach this matter as some abstract problem, but as a problem of how we are to get in this world the best conditions of freedom and life for a people with whom we have worked over a great period of years, and a people who are to-day in this war doing a wonderful service for the Allied cause. I entirely agree with the hon. Member for Abingdon (Sir R. Glyn). I doubt whether it is recognised enough how much India has done and what good fighting has been put up by India, by Indians in the Army, in the Navy and in the workshops. I suggest that some people in their enthusiasm for what they think is the 1446 Indian attitude have done less than justice to the effort of the Indian people.
It is a false assumption to think that all the people of India are sitting down thinking of political problems. Even in this country there are many people who think very little of political problems. There are vast numbers of Indians who are devoting themselves to the service of the war, and, of course, there are vast numbers who have hardly heard of the war or of the leaders of Indian opinion. That shows the vastness of the problem that faces us. I am sorry that the hon. Member for Camlachie (Mr. Stephen) repeated slanders against the people of Burma, whom I also know well, and amongst whom I have friends. It is not true that the people of Burma all yielded to the Japanese. It is true that there were some.
§ Mr. Attlee
The impression he gave was that the whole of the people of Burma gave way. It is not true. The responsible Government of Burma stuck this thing out right the way through. The people of Burma, the majority of them, stuck it out, at the risk of their lives, and it is wrong for people, unless they have gone very carefully into the facts, which I do not think has been done in this case, to make a statement like that against a brave people, a very charming people, and a people who, I am sure, will regain their country and, with their country, their full freedom.
While I am dealing with the speech of the hon. Member for Camlachie—and this is the only other thing I want to say about it—let me say that I think he should show a little more restraint and a little more sense of proportion than to talk of conditions in India being like the conditions in Norway. He knows that is nonsense, but his statement may be read by people who will not know that it is nonsense. The fact is that in a large number of Provinces to-day Indian Governments are functioning. At any moment when Indian politicians choose they can have complete control in Provincial Governments, and the Provincial Governments deal with 95 per cent. of all the subjects in which the ordinary man is interested. Already to-day Indians have 11 members out of 15 in the Viceroy's Council, and that is no fixed proportion, but it is as it is 1447 because there must be people of experience to carry on. There is no question of what their colour is. We want the best man for any position.
When people say that nothing has been done since the Mission of my right hon. and learned Friend they forget that immediately afterwards there was a big enlargement of the Viceroy's Council. This brought in representatives of the Sikhs, of the Depressed Classes and of other prominent Indians. There is a kind of suggestion that all this time nothing has been done. I heard a suggestion, though I am bound to say that I did not quite understand it, from, I think, the hon. Member for East Birkenhead (Mr. Graham White) about the formation of some kind of a war council but a war council which was, I gathered, to go in for re-dividing up the Provinces. That does not seem to me to be the function of a war council. Already there is this Advisory Council on which Indians serve. I am sure that everyone who has had experience of local government affairs will agree that no better way of throwing the apple of discord among Indian people can be imagined than trying to set up new boundaries. After all, one cannot alter the boundaries of a rural district council here without causing disputes.
§ Mr. White
My right hon. Friend has done me the honour of mentioning this idea, but I must have expressed myself ill. The division of Provinces and boundaries was a matter which I forecast as something which might be related to the future Constitution of India and a task which a body of the kind I was endeavouring to suggest to the House might usefully undertake.
§ Mr. Attlee
I was trying to take up any constructive suggestions, and I think that was the most destructive suggestion I have heard, because, apart from the ordinary difficulty of dealing with boundaries, the hon. Member knows that one of the difficulties in regard to this question is a difference of opinion among Indians as to what should constitute India. There are Indians who demand that a part of India where a particular community dominates should be taken away from the rest of India and called Pakistan. There are others who say, "Let us keep all India together." Therefore, in that suggestion we are walking straight into one 1448 of the capital difficulties that face us in this problem. I am bound to say that while almost everyone in this Debate has asked that something should be done, there have been very few practical suggestions.
I come back to the point I was making, and that was the esentisal difficulty of this question. It is no good trying to overcome this difficulty by using ambiguous words. It is no good talking about "the people of India." It is no good thinking that by so doing you have thereby settled the problem of Indian unity. You might just as well say, "Let us hand Europe over to be governed by the people of Europe." Take a smaller item, if you will; you might say, "Why not hand over the Balkans to be ruled by the Balkan people?" [An HON. MEMBER: "It was done in Russia."] Perhaps the hon. Member will allow me this time to make my speech by myself. Take a smaller example. You might say, "Why not hand Palestine over to the people of Palestine?"
Members of this House have probably more political experience than Members of any other House. They know that one of the most difficult problems in the world is where you get two separate communities inhabiting one tract of territory. The hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton) told us that we showed a lack of historical sense, and he ranged over a good many historical precedents himself, right back to King John. I think he neglected something that lay quite close to his hand. He had an intense scorn of the idea that it was possible to settle the difficulties which he was facing, of separate communities living in one place, by anything like a Constitution. I happen to be Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs, and I looked up the Constitution of the Dominion of Canada. There you had precisely those difficulties which might have led to civil war between two communities in that one area, and they were settled by a Constitution. Perhaps the hon. Member might look up his historical references again.
I also say that in this difficult question—and there are many difficult questions—it is no good thinking that the Indian difficulty is due to a particular "cussed-ness" of Indians. It is one that arises in many parts of the world. A part of the world where it has been satisfactorily 1449 settled, and in Europe, is Switzerland. That is one of the most democratic countries in the world. The other day my hon. friend the Member for West Islington (Mr. Montague) made some very sound remarks on democracy. Democracy does not mean the dominance of the whole of the people by one section. It means getting a substantial agreement among all the people. The demand of India to-day is not just to be governed by Indians; they want a democratic government of India. Presumably you could, if you wished, settle that Indian question by handing it over to some Indians, or one Indian. The question is not that; it is one of a different character.
Let us take some credit here also. Indians admire the British Constitution. They want a democratic Constitution like ours, and they desire to work it out; but our Constitution depends not on the form of democracy but because we are used to practising democracy. The fundamental difficulty that we are up against in this Indian question is that you cannot get the communities to trust one another. It is no good burking the question. It is no good making unpleasant remarks about the leader of the Moslems either. I do not think it is a very wise thing.
§ Mr. Attlee
It is no good trying to belittle the great Moslem community. When people ask me, "What are the Moslem people doing in the war?" I reply that the Moslems put up a very large number of the Fighting Forces. When trouble was raised in India, the Moslem people did not raise it. I have never said for a moment that the Congress party is not a great party with important leaders. But I am quite sure the hon. Member for Bridgeton would be the last to suggest it is only the big parties that count.
§ Mr. Attlee
I do not know whether that is a declaration of confidence or a self-denying ordinance. I can assure the hon. Gentleman there are a number of extremely effective minorities in India who must be considered—there are Sikhs, there are Parsees, there are the populations of the Indian States, there are the 1450 Moslems and the Depressed Classes or Scheduled Castes. It is no use suggesting that these people do not offer problems. It would be equally wrong to suggest that there are not great social disparities in India. It has been said that India shows every range of civilisation, from the Rolls-Royce to the bullock cart. It is perfectly true. That does not make it easy to frame a Constitution for the Indian people, and therefore it is not a thing which can be settled by a nice catch phrase, by saying that there is just one thing to be done—to give India to the Indian people. I quite agree that running through all political life in India there is a desire for self-government. It is a perfectly right desire, a desire with which we all sympathise. The trouble is that they do not all desire to be governed by the same people. So strongly do they not desire that that some of them refuse to be so governed.
§ Mr. Attlee
No, it is not. I am very much obliged to my hon. Friend, because he has just brought out the point I wanted to make. My hon. Friend the Member for Merthyr (Mr. S. O. Davies) is, I am sure, a good democrat. However much he dislikes the Government, he continues to be a good citizen; he does his duty. He would not mind approaching Ministers on questions concerning Merthyr or his constituents, and if he finds himself in a minority, he continues to work the Constitution, because he is a good democrat. But there are countries where minorities refuse to have anything to do with the Government. Sometimes they cause a revolution; sometimes they are exterminated. I should say that one of the things we are fighting this war for is the right of minorities to live.
§ Mr. Attlee
I quite agree. My hon. Friend is always right—and majorities. I put it this way. My hon. Friend and I agree that we must live and let live, although we do not agree. That is a point we have to try to settle. The kind of thing being thrown up is that the Government did something rather dreadful in proposing a solution. We have been asking over and over again that the Indian leaders should come together and agree. That is not a thing that happened just this year or last year. This obstacle, namely, 1451 the difficulties between the communities, has been evident ever since the beginning of Indian self-government, and at every turn I have met it. I have met it when on the Commission, at the Round Table Conference, and in the Joint Select Committee. It has always been the obstacle that has stood in the way. Indians said, "We cannot settle this." In fact, they said, "It is unfair to try to make us settle this. You must produce a solution." We produced a method, by which we hoped this problem might De resolved. Do not let us forget, when we hear some of the violent speeches which are made, that, as I believe, a British person, an Indian, or anyone else who looks at these proposals would say that they are fair proposals, that they are just proposals, that they are sound proposals. The method we proposed is one which I remember being proposed to me by one of the leaders of the Congress Party a few years ago. It has been thrown back to us. We all deeply regret that, but we have tried to make the fullest and fairest offer that we can.
There were things that we could not do. We endeavoured under our proposals to get a settlement of the communal problem. We are asked to anticipate that settlement, to beg that question, which could only be settled by the Indian peoples. You may ask this man, or that woman, or anybody you like, to join the Central Government of India as long as it remains under the present Constitution, but if you are going to depart from that, giving all power to an irresponsible body, you are at once begging the whole question as to who shall govern India. I think it is recognised that you cannot go further in that direction. We have said that our offer remains open. Remember that that offer was not rigid. The particular method we suggested was in default of Indians agreeing upon their own method. But our offer was thrown back upon us. The Congress Party departed altogether from the method of democracy, and tried the method of coercion. It is anti-democratic to act by coercion, whether by non-violence or by violence. But experience has shown over and over again—and nobody knows it better than Mr. Gandhi—that in Indian conditions civil disobedience leads to violence. It happened before. Terrible things happened: Mr. Gandhi him- 1452 self expressed his repentance. I think it is a most regrettable thing that at the end of his life he should have again taken action which has resulted in the deaths of innocent people.
The Government had to meet that situation, and not in the piping times of peace, but with an enemy at the gates. In the interests of the prevention of further disturbance and loss of life, the Government were bound to act; and I believe the majority of people in this country, and in this House, thought they were right to act. They were right to act, in the interests of Indian statesmen themselves. If you talk to Indians, of whatever point of view—I include the most extremist—they will all say that the one essential thing in India is a Government that is prepared to govern. Indians also have their historical memories; they remember years of anarchy in India. We have only to look a little further East to see years of anarchy in China. I am sure my hon. Friends below the Gangway would agree that in those conditions of anarchy and violence it is the poorest people who suffer most. You must have law and order. It is a most distasteful task, but it is a task which we have had to undertake and which responsible Indian statesmen have had to undertake. If you are going to have a Government which is to command respect, you must protect those who look to it for protection.
§ Mr. Attlee
The violence was planned. The orders were issued for civil disobedience, as I have stated; and the hon. Member knows it quite well: he knows his history. He knows that whenever civil disobedience was started in India it always ran to violence.
§ Mr. Silverman
That is not the question that my hon. Friend asked. It may be true that civil disobedience has led in the past, and will in the future, to violence. The question the right hon. Gentleman has been asked, which he has not answered, was, "Were not the actual acts of violence subsequent to the imprisonments and not before?"
§ Mr. Attlee
Bear with me for one sentence. I said the orders had been issued for civil disobedience, that civil disobedience had always meant violence, and therefore it was right of the Government to act at once in order to stop it. I was saying that this is in the interests of Indian self-government itself. There could not be a worse thing particularly for the Hindu majority that has always depended on brains and brain-power rather than fighting forces, to have the precedent set of a Government that yielded to violence by a minority. Again I appeal to the hon. Member for Bridgeton, with his avowed historical memory. He knows perfectly well of a number of instances where governments set up by revolver and bomb have found it difficult to get rid of the revolver and bomb, and in a great subcontinent like India, with people very close to the soil, it is a very dangerous thing to let rioting start. Whatever colour the Government may be, they are bound to take action, and still more so when it is not only a matter of civil security at home but there is the enemy at the gates.
One must look at this, as I know the wiser heads in India, including members of the Congress Party, have looked at it, in its larger aspect, as part of this great fight which is going on. I have talked to them myself. I know they realise that if the Fascist States conquer the world, there will be precious little chance for Indian self-government. We have a responsibility to the Indian people to prevent them from falling under Japan. We have a responsibility to our Allies who have put up such a wonderful fight in China. It is through India that we shall be able to hold China. To allow India to fall out, you would be betraying the people who have been fighting in China, and not only the people of China, but the people of Russia as well. It would be a good stroke of business for the Axis Powers if Japan and Germany could join hands. India is the bulwark there to the south of Russia, and therefore we have that responsibility in the interests of all the Allied Nations and of the people of India to stand firm. The only people who can defend India at the present moment are the people of the Allied Nations and the people of India themselves, and for that you cannot break up an organization in the middle and throw it over to somebody else. It must 1454 be under British control, and that is recognised.
These then are the issues, and I am asked, "What can you do now?" I say that if it were suggested that you can enter into negotiations with people who are running a campaign of this sort, you are betraying the future of democracy. We are not prepared to do that. We stand by the whole of our offer. I was sorry to see that my hon. Friend the Member for Aberavon questioned what the offer was, and I know where his inspiration came from, a little pamphlet written——
§ Mr. Montague (Islington, West)
On a point of Order, Mr. Speaker. Do you regard it as offensive if one Member of this House calls another Member a rat?
§ Mr. Attlee
I will certainly withdraw my remark, but it is the first time it has been suggested that the offer made by this Government was not a genuine offer. I entirely accept my hon. Friend's statement.
§ Mr. Attlee
Nevertheless, it is unfortunate for anyone to suggest that this offer was not a perfectly genuine and sincere offer. It was accepted as such at the time by the people of this country, the United States, the Dominions and India. It was a genuine offer then and stands to-day. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has said that the door is still open. There has been no slamming of the door. At any time we are willing to talk to anybody. The suggestion is sometimes made that you can run around with new offers. In the speeches we have had to-day—and there was an extremely able speech from my right hon. 1455 and gallant Friend the Member for Westmorland (Colonel Stanley)—it has been realised that if you go to the utmost, as we did, and make the fullest proposals possible, it is no good suggesting that you can run round with other offers. The Government have not stood pat; there is no closing of the door; we are not prepared to negotiate with people who are in rebellion, but we are prepared at any time to go fully into the question of this Indian problem on the basis of our suggested proposals, which everybody, I believe, agrees, were generous, wise and just proposals.
I hope that Indian statesmen will think again and that they will look not at just some immediate question that stirs them, but at the long train of Indian history. If they do, they will see what a great role India has to play in the battle for democracy. I have always hoped that India, drawing her inspiration, as she has so much, from here, will set the lead in Asia for democracy. But to do that, one thing is necessary. Democratic forms are useless without a democratic spirit. Unless you can get toleration and the "live and let live" principle among all communities, you cannot achieve a good and successful working of democracy. I should have thought that to-day, looking at the world devastated as it is by the hate, intolerance and domination of one section, the Indian people and their leaders would have seen that this is the way to death and not to life. I would ask them to think again in order that they may join in our effort to defeat tyranny and thereby hasten the time when the Indian people themselves can decide on their own free Government in the future.
§ Mr. MacLaren (Burslem)
I want to ask a question of the Government. Before doing so, may I say that I was for many years intimately connected with the Indian movement? My mind goes back to Gokali, to Tillak, great men whose intimate friendship I enjoyed and look back on as having been a great privilege. We are still to-day worried by this great problem. I ask hon. Members not to attempt to resolve it in heat and passion, because the menace of the problem is much greater than our own personal feelings. I ask the Government whether 1456 they will take the risk of inviting to London to another conference the leaders of the Indian parties? I have always felt that it was impossible for us in England, with the best will in the world, to draw up a Constitution and take it to India. Two days before my right hon. and learned Friend left this country, I said that to send him to India, into a sea of contention, was a waste of time, that it would take almost six months to meet the various deputations and sections in India, and that to attempt to placate them would take almost a year; but to come back to England after a short period, without consulting any of the minor sections, would mean only a cohesion of those sections who had not had the privilege of consultation and who would feel a sense of dissatisfaction.
To return to my question. At the behest of a few of us, the late Sir Sankaran Nair attempted to draft an Indian Constitution. I ask the Government to look back on that Constitution. I make this request quite disinterestedly and not in any sense of false patriotism, because the more one handles the Indian problem and the more one knows about it, the more intractable it becomes. I have a passionate belief in the principle that all men should govern their own destinies. That comes from my own philosophy. The dream of all the best men in our democracy is that the Indian people, with all their various views on philosophy and religion, should come within one comity. I beg the Government to invite to London the leaders of the Indian parties. I would ask Sir Tej Bahadur Sapru, who has much influence. I would even ask Mr. Nehru to come here, and certainly I would ask Mr. Jinnah. I would ask the leaders of the Indian parties to come here, and give them a solemn pledge—" We will enforce the Constitution which you devise in this country, removed from the heat and passions in your own country." I make that last appeal at the last moment of this Debate. Will the Government accept it?
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 360; Noes, 17.
|Division No. 23.]||AYES.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lt.-Col. G. J.||De la Bère, R.||Hutchison, Lt.-Com. G. I. C. (E'burgh)|
|Adams, D. (Consett)||Denman, Hon. R. D.||Isaacs, G. A.|
|Adamson, Jennie L. (Dartford)||Danville, Alfred||James, Wing-Comdr. A. W. H.|
|Albery, Sir Irving||Digby, Capt. K. S. D. W.||Jarvis, J. J.|
|Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (H'lsbr.)||Dodd, J. S.||Jeffreys, Gen. Sir G. D.|
|Alexander, Bg.-Gen. Sir W. (G'gow, C.)||Doland, G. F.||Jenkins, A. (Pontypool)|
|Allen, Lt.-Col. Sir W. J. (Armagh).||Donner, Squadron-Leader P. W.||Jennings, R|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. L. C. M. S.||Douglas, F. C. R.||John, W.|
|Ammon, C. G.||Dower, Lt.-Col. A. V. G.||Johnston, Rt. Hon. T. (Stl'g & C'km'n)|
|Anderson, Rt. Hon. Sir J. (Sc'h Univ.)||Duckworth, Arthur (Shrewsbury)||Johnstone, H. (Middlesbrough, W.)|
|Assheton, R.||Duckworth, W. R. (Moss Side)||Jones, Sir G. W. H. (S'k Newington)|
|Astor, Lt.-Col. Hon. J. J. (Dover)||Dugdale, John (W. Bromwich)||Jones, L. (Swansea, W.)|
|Astor, Hon. W. W. (Fulham, E.)||Dugdale, Major T. L. (Richmond)||Jowitt, Rt. Hon. Sir W. A.|
|Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.||Duncan, Rt. Hn. Sir A. R. (C. Ldn.)||Keeling, E. H.|
|Balfour, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. H.||Ede, J. C.||Keir, Mrs. Cazalet|
|Baxter, A. Beverley||Eden, Rt. Hon. A.||Kennedy, Rt. Hon. T.|
|Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P.||Edmondson, Major Sir J.||Kerr, H. W. (Oldham)|
|Beattie, F.||Edwards, Walter J. (Whitechapel)||Kerr, Sir John Graham (Scottish U's)|
|Beauchamp, Sir B. C.||Elliot, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. W. E.||Key, C. W|
|Beaumont, Hubert (Batley)||Ellis, Sir G.||Keyes, Admiral of the Fleet Sir R.|
|Beaumont, Maj. Hn. R. E. B. (P'ts'h)||Elliston, Captain G. S.||Kimball, Major L.|
|Beechman, N. A.||Emery, J. F.||King-Hail, Commander W. S. R.|
|Beit, Sir A. L.||Emmott, C. E. G. C.||Knox, Major-General Sir A. W. F.|
|Bennett, Sir P. F. B. (Edgbaston)||Emrys-Evans, P. V.||Lamb, Sir J. Q.|
|Benson, G.||Entwistle, Sir C. F.||Lambert, Rt. Hon. G.|
|Bernays, R. H.||Errington, Squadron-Leader E.||Law, R. K.|
|Bevin, Rt. Hon. E.||Etherton, Flight-Lieut. Ralph||Leach, W.|
|Bird, Sir R. B.||Evans, Colonel A. (Cardiff, S.)||Lees-Jones, J.|
|Blair, Sir R.||Evans, D. O. (Cardigan)||Leigh, Sir J.|
|Boles, Lt.-Col. D. C.||Everard, Sir W. Lindsay||Leighton, Major B. E. P.|
|Boothby, R. J. G.||Fildes, Sir H.||Leslie, J. R.|
|Bossom, A. C.||Fleming, Squadron-Leader E. L.||Levy, T.|
|Boulton, W. W.||Foot, D. M.||Liddall, W. S.|
|Bower, Norman (Harrow)||Fox, Flight. Lieut. Sir G. W. G.||Lindsay, K. M.|
|Bower, Comdr. R. T. (Cleveland)||Frankel, D.||Linstead, H. N.|
|Bowles, F. G.||Fremantle, Sir F. E.||Lipson, D. L.|
|Boyce, H. Leslie||Fyfe, Major Sir D. P. M.||Little, Sir E. Graham- (London Univ.)|
|Bracken, Rt. Hon. B.||Galbraith, Comdr. T. D.||Llewellin, Col. Rt. Hon. J. J.|
|Braithwaite, Major A. N. (Buckrose)||Gammans, Capt. L. D.||Lloyd, C. E. (Dudley)|
|Brass, Capt. Sir W.||Gates, Major E. E.||Lloyd, Major E. G. R. (Renfrew, E.)|
|Briscoe, Capt. R. G.||George, Maj. Rt. Hn. G. Lloyd (P'b'ke)||Lloyd, G. W. (Ladywood)|
|Broadbridge, Sir G. T.||Gibson, Sir C. G.||Loftus, P. C.|
|Brocklebank, Sir C. E. R.||Gledhill, G.||Lucas, Major Sir J. M.|
|Brooke, H. (Lewisham)||Gluckstein, Major L. H.||Lyle, Sir C. E. Leonard|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Newbury)||Glyn, Sir R. G. C.||Mabane, W.|
|Browne, Captain A. C. (Belfast, W.)||Goldie, N. B.||McCorquodale, Malcolm S.|
|Bullock, Capt. M.||Gower, Sir R. V.||Macdonald, Capt. P. (Isle of Wight)|
|Burden, T. W.||Grant-Ferris, Wing-Commander R.||McEntee, V. La T.|
|Burghley, Lord||Green, W. H. (Deptford)||McEwen, Capt. J. H. F.|
|Burgin, Rt. Hon. E. L.||Greene, W. P. C. (Worcester)||McKie, J. H.|
|Burke, W. A.||Gretton, Col. Rt. Hon. J.||Macmillan, Rt. Hon. H. (Stockton)|
|Burton, Col. H. W.||Gridley, Sir A. B.||McNeil, H.|
|Cadogan, Major Sir E.||Grigg, Sir E. W. M. (Altrincham)||Maitland, Sir A.|
|Campbell, Sir E. T.||Grimston, R. V.||Makins, Brig.-Gen. Sir E.|
|Carver, Colonel W. H.||Gritten, W. G. Howard||Mander, G. le M.|
|Cary, R. A.||Groves, T. E.||Martin, J. H.|
|Castlereagh, Viscount||Guy, W. H.||Mathers, G.|
|Cazalet, Col. V. A.||Hacking, Rt. Hon. Sir D. H.||Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J.|
|Challen, Flight-Lieut. C.||Hall, Rt. Hon. G. H. (Aberdare)||Mellor, Sir J. S. P.|
|Channon, H.||Hall, W. G. (Colne Valley)||Milner, Major J.|
|Chapman, A. (Rutherglen)||Hammersley, S. S.||Mitcheson, Sir G. G.|
|Chapman, Sir S. (Edinburgh, S.)||Hannah, I. C.||Molson, A. H. E.|
|Charleton, H. C.||Hannon, Sir P. J. H.||Montague, F.|
|Chater, D.||Harris, Rt. Hon. Sir P. A.||Moore, Lieut.-Col. Sir T. C. R.|
|Christie, J. A.||Haslam, Henry||Morris-Jones, Sir Henry|
|Churchill, Capt. R. F. E. (Preston)||Headlam, Lt.-Col. Sir C. M.||Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Universities)|
|Clarry, Sir Reginald||Hely-Hutchinson, M. R.||Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Hackney, S.)|
|Cluse, W. S.||Henderson, A. (Kingswinford)||Morrison, Major J. G. (Salisbury)|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. J. R.||Henderson, J. (Ardwick)||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)|
|Colegate, W. A.||Henderson, J. J. Craik (Leeds, N. E.)||Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cirencester)|
|Colman, N. C. D.||Henderson, T. (Tradeston)||Mort, D. L.|
|Conant, Capt. R. J. E.||Herbert, Petty Officer A. P. (Oxford U.)||Mott-Radclyffe, Capt. C. E.|
|Cooke, J. D. (Hammersmith, S.)||Higgs, W. F.||Muff, G.|
|Cooper, Rt. Hon. A. Duff||Hill, Prof. A. V.||Murray, J. D.|
|Courthope, Col. Rt. Hon. Sir G. L.||Hinchingbrooke, Viscount||Nall, Sir J.|
|Cripps, Rt. Hon. Sir Stafford||Hopkinson, A.||Naylor, T. E.|
|Critchley, A.||Horsbrugh, Florence||Nicholson, Captain G. (Farnham)|
|Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C.||Howitt, Dr. A. B.||Nicolson, Hon. H. G. (Leicester, W.)|
|Crowder, Capt. J. F. E.||Hudson, Sir A. (Hackney, N.)||Noel-Baker, P. J.|
|Culverwell, C. T.||Hudson, Rt. Hon. R. S. (Southport)||Nunn, W.|
|Dalton, Rt. Hon. H.||Hume, Sir G. H.||Oldfield, W. H.|
|Davidson, Viscountess (H'm'l H'mst'd)||Hunter, T.||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir H.|
|Davison, Sir W. H.||Hurd, Sir P. A.||Paling, W.|
|De Chair, Capt. S. S.||Hutchinson, G. C. (Ilford)||Palmer, G. E. H.|
|Pearson, A.||Selley, H. R.||Tomlinson, G.|
|Peat, C. U.||Shaw, Mayor P. S. (Wavertree)||Touche, G. C.|
|Perkins, W. R. D.||Shaw, Capt. W. T. (Forfar)||Tree, A. R. L. F.|
|Peters, Dr. S. J.||Shepperson, Sir E. W.||Tufnell, Lieut.-Comdr. R. L.|
|Petherick, Major M.||Shute, Col. Sir J. J.||Wakefield, W. W.|
|Pethick-Lawrence, Rt. Hon. F. W.||Sinclair, Rt. Hon. Sir A.||Walkden, A. G. (Bristol, S.)|
|Peto, Major B. A. J.||Smiles, Lt.-Col. Sir W. D.||Walker-Smith, Sir J.|
|Pickthorne, K. W. M.||Smith, Ban (Rotherhithe)||Ward, Irene M. B. (Wallsend)|
|Pilkington, Captain R. A.||Smith, Bracewell (Dulwich)||Waterhouse, Capt. C.|
|Ponsonby, Col. C. E.||Smith, Sir R. W. (Aberdeen)||Watkins, F. C.|
|Pownall, Lt.-Col. Sir Assheton||Smith, T. (Normanton)||Watt, F. C. (Edinburgh Cen.)|
|Price, M. P.||Smithers, Sir W.||Watt, Lt.-Col. G. S. H. (Richmond)|
|Purbrick, R.||Snadden, W. McN.||Webbe, Sir W. Harold|
|Pym, L. R.||Somervell, Rt. Hon. Sir D. B.||Wells, Sir S. Richard|
|Quibell, D. J. K.||Southby, Comd. Sir A. R. J.||Westwood, J.|
|Radford, E. A.||Spearman, A. C. M.||White, Sir Dymoke (Fareham)|
|Raikes, Flight-Lieut. H. V. A. M.||Spens, W. P.||White, H. Graham (Birkenhead, E.)|
|Rankin, Sir R.||Stanley, Col. Rt. Hon. Oliver||Wickham, Lt.-Col. E. T. R.|
|Rathbone, Eleaner||Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.)||Wilkinson, Ellen|
|Reed, A. C. (Exeter)||Storey, S.||Williams, Sir H. G. (Croydon, S.)|
|Reed, Sir H. S. (Aylesbury)||Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.)||Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)|
|Reid, W. Allan (Derby)||Strauss, H. G. (Norwich)||Willink, H. U.|
|Rickards, G. W.||Strickland, Capt. W. F.||Wilmot, John|
|Ridley, G.||Stuart, Lord C. Crichton- (Northwith)||Windsor, W.|
|Ritson, J.||Studholme, Captain H. G.||Windsor-Clive, Lt.-Col. G.|
|Robertson, D. (Streatham)||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir M. F.||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Robertson, Rt. Hn. Sir M. A. (M'ham)||Summers, G. S.||Womersley, Rt. Hon. Sir W.|
|Robinson, J. R. (Blackpool)||Sutcliffe, H.||Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir K. (W'lwich, W.)|
|Ross Taylor, W.||Sykes, Maj.-Gen. Rt. Hon. Sir F. H.||Woodburn, A.|
|Royds, Admiral Sir P. M. R.||Tasker, Sir R. I.||Wragg, H.|
|Russell, Sir A. (Tynemouth)||Tate, Mavis C.||Wright, Mrs. Beatrice F. (Bodmin)|
|Salt, E. W.||Taylor, Major C. S. (Eastbourne)||York, Capt. C.|
|Sanderson, Sir F. B.||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)||Young, A. S. L. (Partick)|
|Savory, Professor D. L.||Thomas, I. (Keighley)||Young, Sir R. (Newton)|
|Schuster, Sir G. E.||Thomas, J. P. L. (Hereford)|
|Scott, Donald (Wansbeek)||Thomas, Dr. W. S. Russell (S'th'm'tn)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Scott, Lord William (Ro'b'h A Selk'k)||Thurtle, E.||Mr. James Stuart and|
|Acland, Sir R. T. D.||Kirkwood, D.||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Barr, J.||McGhee, H. G.||Stokes, R. R.|
|Buchanan, G.||McGovern, J.||Wilson, C. H.|
|Cove, W. G.||Pritt, D. N.|
|Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Salter, Dr. A. (Bermondsey, W.)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Driberg, T. E. N||Silverman, S. S.||Mr. Maxton and Mr. Stephen.|
|Gallacher, W.||Sloan, A.|
§ Bill read a Second time.
§ Bill committed to a Committee of the Whole House for the next Sitting Day.—[Major Sir James Edmondson.]1460
§ The remaining Orders were read, and postponed.